Scouting Remains Vital Step in Pepper Weevil Control

Web AdminFlorida, Pests

By Clint Thompson

Pepper weevils continue to be a nuisance for Florida vegetable growers. University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) experts are providing guidance for producers on how to manage the pest.

Pepper weevils

Jawwad Qureshi, associate professor of entomology at UF/IFAS, discussed the situation during the recent Citrus and Specialty Crop Expo. He emphasized that any management strategies start with scouting.

Pepper weevils
Jawwad Qureshi

“It’s very important because, once adults come in, it’s very difficult to stop them from starting the new generations. As long as we know early on that they’re coming in and we can target the spray applications, then we can significantly reduce the populations and the buildup of the populations in the crop,” Qureshi said. “It’s easier to manage them when the populations are low.”

Florida pepper producers have to consider management options for pepper weevil every year. Unfortunately, there are very few labeled insecticides available. That puts an added emphasis on cultural control methods for growers to utilize.

Qureshi focused on some of those cultural control methods during his presentation, which included rotating crops, avoiding sequential plantings. It is essential that once infestations occur, growers should remove and destroy any infested fruit. Producers should also utilize three months of a fallow period.

Once the weevil has laid its eggs, it is too late for growers. There are various factors for farmers to consider if they hope to disrupt the pest’s life cycle. Proper sanitation and a crop-free period, if it’s accompanied by the destruction of alternate hosts, can be effective. Sanitation involves any practice that eliminates or reduces the amount of pathogen inoculum, pests, or weed seeds that are still present in the field.