A Sweet Potato Weevil?
Sat, Dec 6, 2008 at 7:15 PM
About a week ago I threw an old sweet potato into the yard. Today I went to move the sweet potato to a garden area just in case it was going to grow and I found some odd little red and black insects collected underneath it.
The bugs were a little less than a centimeter long and they had black heads and abdomens with thoraxes that looked as if it was made of two red spheres. Their heads had a long black snout with antennae at the end of the snout. When anything touched them they dropped to their sides as if they were dead and a minute later they would revive themselves and move around again. They also pulled in their antennae when they played dead. I browsed through insect images online and I think they might be sweet potato weevils but I’m not entirely sure. That bug in the photo was the only one that remained on the sweet potato when I moved it, the rest fell off playing dead.
Thank you for your time reading this! And pest or not, they all were left unharmed after the potato was moved.
You are absolutely correct. This is a Sweet Potato Weevil, Cylas formicarius. It is a perfect match to images posted to BugGuide which states: “Range Worldwide (mostly tropical and subtropical). Introduced in North America, where found from South Carolina to Florida, west to Texas” and “Larvae bore in sweet potatoes. Tiny white eggs are laid in punctures made in vines near ground, or even in stored potatoes. Larvae burrow in and feed for 2-3 weeks, then pupate in a burrow (2). Also attacks morning-glories and some Asteraceae.”
Thank you so much for the identification! I am one insect identification smarter now 🙂 My neighbors recently dug up all of their sweet potato plants so perhaps they wandered from there to my yard looking for food. I didn’t know these weevils existed until I saw them under the sweet potato, it’s amazing how insects have their own little niches in unexpected places. Thank you again for the identification!