Do you have an infestation of the diaprepes root weevil on your ornamentals or citrus plants? In this article, we will help you understand their life cycle and how to get rid of them.
It is great to have citrus trees like lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc., in your yard. Not only do they look good, but the fruits are delicious and healthy.
But if you don’t keep your citrus and ornamental plants safe from the Diaprepes root weevil, they will wither away in no time with minimum yield.
This article will help you identify these weevils and how to keep them away from your beloved trees.
What Is Diaprepes Root Weevil?
The Diaprepes root weevils originated from the Caribbean and were introduced to Florida in the 60s. Later on, they spread to parts of Southern California and Texas as well.
The adult weevils grow from ⅜ to ¾ inches in length. They have black bodies with long patterns that look like stripes of white, orange, red, or yellow color.
Both adult females and males feed on plant leaves. They lay their eggs in the ground. When the eggs hatch, the larvae consume the roots of plants over a 9-18 month-long duration.
These larvae usually chew out the root crown area, which causes the host plant to die.
This cycle starts when the females lay around 5,000 eggs after mating in later summer or spring. They deposit these eggs in clusters of 30-260 eggs between or inside a pocket made between the edges of leaves.
The females build these pockets using a gelatinous mixture that they produce to glue two edges together. You can identify eggs by their uniform white color, which turns dark just before hatching.
It takes around 7-10 days for these eggs to hatch. Once the larva comes out, they go into the soil to eat the roots of citrus trees.
After getting enough food and nutrition, the larvae go into the pupation stage. The pupa stays in the soil for around 30 days.
During spring, the new adults emerge from the soil using their mandibles to tunnel out of the underground pupa.
The lifecycle of these weevils depends highly on the soil temperature. If the soil is too hard and dry, new adults won’t be able to emerge from it.
What Damage Does it Cause?
The adult weevils usually feed on tender young leaves. On rare occasions, they consume fruits like papaya. The larvae, on the other hand, feed on the roots of various ornamental and citrus plants.
They eat up both structural and fibrous roots (tubers), stunting root growth and eventually causing extensive damage to the plants.
In some plants like sweet potatoes, these pests directly consume the tubers. When it comes to citrus plants, they start by feeding on the small roots, and as they grow, they shift to the larger roots.
Due to their root-feeding nature, these weevils can cause massive damage to highly economical trees like citrus, palm, roses, birch, guava, and more.
Therefore it is essential to control their population to prevent infestations. Mentioned below are a few tips and tricks that you can use to remove these beetles from your yards.
Since the new adults emerge from the ground, setting up ground traps can be an effective way of keeping their numbers in check.
You can use a Tedders trap to monitor the number of adult weevils in different tree canopies.
Foliar Contact Insecticides
With the use of a foliar spray, you can apply specific applications of Brigade to the emergence spots of the new adult beetles.
You can use other chemicals like carbaryl and zeta-cypermethrin as well for effective results.
These chemicals are great for killing adult beetles which is why you must spray them near the emerging spots from late May to early June.
The number of weevils emerging from the ground is the highest during these months.
Since the larvae attack the roots of various trees, chemical barriers can be highly effective against them.
A dry chemical insecticide is added to the soil around the plant, which kills the larval population when they come in contact with it.
This barrier is applied from the trunk to the dripline under the soil to get the best results.
Once the eggs hatch, the larvae drop from the leaves to the soil and resides there for a few months before emerging.
To prevent the larvae from going inside the soil, you can use a landscape fabric that will act as a barrier between the soil and the larvae.
These fabrics allow water to pass to the ground so that the plants get enough of it to grow, but do not let the larvae fall directly on the soil.
These pests can also be eliminated using parasitic nematodes, which are an effective form of biological control for most garden pests.
The nematodes Heterorhabditis Indica and Steinernema Riobravis are great for attacking and killing these root weevils.
The good thing about them is that once they kill the weevils, they die due to hunger. This prevents them from attacking trees and other insects.
You can purchase nematodes as biopesticides and apply them using micro-irrigation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Diaprepes Abbreviatus poisonous?
The Diaprepes Abbrevitus species are not harmful or poisonous to animals or humans, but they can cause other damages.
These types of weevils cause a big problem by eating up the roots of citrus trees and ornamental plants. When the roots are destroyed, the entire tree dies.
How do you get rid of root weevils on rhododendrons?
To prevent root weevils from attacking rhododendrons, get a burlap, fold it and place it at the base of the infected plant.
The insects are likely to fall into the burlap when the eggs hatch and larvae come out. Remove them and put them in a place away from your garden.
What insecticide kills weevils?
Adult weevils can be killed and controlled with the use of insecticide sprays like cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, and permethrin.
You can also kill granary weevils by either putting the infested food source in the freezer or by heating it at a high temperature for a few minutes.
For root weevils, there are other ways such as using insect traps and nematodes that can eliminate these pests.
How do you get rid of weevils naturally?
To get rid of weevils naturally, you should use airtight containers to restrict them from entering the stored food grains.
You can also store some bay leaves with food grains like rice, corn, oats, and more to keep them at bay.
The Diaprepes root weevils are a major threat to your ornamental and citrus tree plantations.
Although these beetles are not harmful and poisonous, it is best to keep them away from your yard, as they will end up killing most of the plants. Use the methods mentioned here to get rid of these insects.
Thank you for reading the article.
Root weevils like the diaprepes are quite destructive, and it is no surprise that several of our readers have sent us mails about controlling them over the years.
Please go through some of these emails and learn from their experiences.
Letter 1 – Blue-Green Citrus Root Weevil
This pastel-toned weevil has been sitting on my wild lime for a couple of days. It looks like a little machine – I especially love the feet! The weevil is about 1/2 inch in length. Can you help with an ID? Thanks!
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
We identified this as a Blue Green Citrus Root Weevil, Pachnaeus litus, on BugGuide.
Letter 2 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Beetle my friend photographed
Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 7:18 PM
My friend posted a picture of this beetle she came across and was curious as to what kind it is. Found in their house in Orlando, FL.
Your friend has photographed the invasive exotic Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus. Though it is beautiful, this Caribbean native has naturalized in Florida “where it has become a serious pest especially of citrus and woody ornamentals” according to BugGuide. BugGuide goes on to report: “The California Dept. of Food & Agriculture has issued a flyer containing the following information: ‘The weevil was accidentally introduced into Florida in the 1960s and caused extensive damage. It has been intercepted in shipments of plants to California.’ Said to feed on some 270 different plants, it’s described as ‘a significant threat to both urban and agricultural trees and plants.'”
Letter 3 – Citrus Root Weevil
Please dear bug people
September 5, 2009
This bug was chewing on a Zanthoxylum flavum in Bahia Honda SP.
Bahia Honda Key, Florida Keys
WE believe this is one of the Citrus Root Weevils in the genus Pachnaeus. There are two species indicated on BugGuide, the Blue-green Citrus Root Weevil, Pachnaeus litus, and the Northern Citrus Root Weevil, Pachnaeus opalus. We don’t believe we can distinguish which species you have. BugGuide does not provide any information on the food preferences nor the life cycles of these Citrus Root Weevils. Apparently both species are native, but citrus is not native, so it is entirely possible that your Zanthoxylum flavum or West Indian Satinwood is a native host. The larvae of the Citrus Root Weevils feed on the tree roots, but adults generally feed on leaves as your photo indicates. We located a pdf online entitled Pachnaeus Root Weevils in Peach at Gainesville by W.B. Sherman that may have information you find helpful. Other information we found indicates that this native species is never plentiful enough to cause significant damage.
Letter 4 – Citrus Root Weevil
Location: Orlando FL
March 7, 2012 5:44 pm
I need help figuring out what this bug is. I found him at 4:30pm on 3/7/2012. My guess was Chinch Bug, and that he is the guilty party that has comlpetely destroyed my St Augustine yard to bare dirt at my Orlando Florida home. Please help me identify this guy and if he could be the one that killed my lawn. Thank you
Signature: Christopher Goodrich
This is not a Chinch Bug. We were not satisfied writing back and telling you it was a Weevil, so we did some research. We found a photo on the Simple Gifts Farm website that identified it as a Citrus Root Weevil and then we verified that identification on BugGuide where it states: “Major pest of citrus crops: Larvae feed on the roots in the soil, and will often girdle the taproot, which may kill the plant and provide an avenue for Phythophora infections. A single larva can kill young hosts while several larvae can cause serious decline of older, established hosts. A female can produce over 20,000 adults in four years. Pest of sugarcane in the Caribbean”. While it is not responsible for killing your lawn, it might be doing damage to your citrus trees and sugar cane field.
Letter 5 – Bug of the Month March 2017: Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: Can anyone identify this beetle?
March 1, 2017 7:41 am
If you know the common name and species name of this beetle please let me know! Photo taken in the Tampa/Lutz area in Florida
Signature: Francis Pinciotti at Learning Gate Community School
This is a Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, a species “Native to the Caribbean, adventive and established in so. US: so. & central FL (1964), so. TX (Cameron & Hidalgo Cos 2000, Corpus Christi 2005, Houston 2009; map), so. CA (2005), LA (2008); further north in greenhouses” according to BugGuide, which also notes “color highly variable (from gray to yellow to orange to black).” The Diaprepes Root Weevil is a significant agricultural pest, and according to BugGuide: “Major pest of citrus crops: larvae often girdle the taproot, which may kill the plant and provide an avenue for Phythophora infections. A single larva can kill young hosts while several larvae can cause serious decline of older, established hosts.” According to Featured Creatures: “Diaprepes abbreviatus has a wide host range, attacking about 270 different plants including citrus, sugarcane, vegetables, potatoes, strawberries, woody field-grown ornamentals, sweet potatoes, papaya, guava, mahogany, containerized ornamentals, and non-cultivated wild plants.” Since it is the first of the month, we will be featuring your submission as the Bug of the Month for March, 2017.
I greatly appreciate your response and am honored that this photo will be the feature of the month! We’ll be sending more photos to share from Learning Gate Community School.
Letter 6 – Los Angeles Alert: Alien Invader: Diaprepes Root Weevil
Outreach on Pests
My name is Virginia Lopez ,Entomologist with California Department of Food and Agriculture(Pest Detection). I wanted to make you aware of a pest we intercepted in landscape material in San Diego, Long Beach and Orange. We are in eradication mode to rid the State of this invader. If you could inform your vast Los Angeles readers of the pest that would contribute greatly to it staying localized and facilitate eradication. Should you have pest pic emailed to you please have the California resident contact us. EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY TO ERADICATION Attached is postcard mailed out to residences in and around the impacted cities. “The Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, is a large, colorful insect native to the Caribbean. This weevil was accidentally introduced into Florida in the 1960s and caused extensive damage. It has been intercepted in shipments of plants to California. this weevil feeds on about 270 different plants including citrus, hibiscus, avocado, peach, guava, loquat, holly and oak. This pest is a significant threat to both urban and agricultural trees and plants. Adult weevils feed on the leaves of plants and their larvae move under-ground to feed on plant rooots. If you see the adult weevils or damage to plants that looks like the photos above, please contact the California Department of Food and Agruculture’s Exotic Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899.” To find out more on invading pests we are detection,, I have attached our website.
Thank you Bugman for any help you can provide for us.
California Department of Food & Agriculture
Pest Detection/Emergency Projects
Thanks for the warning. We will keep your letter at the top of our homepage and we have reproduced some of the content from the postcard as well.
Letter 7 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: Unidentified bug
Location: Jacksonville, Florida
November 5, 2014 9:03 pm
Can you identify this bug? I spotted it on the wall and I seated it with my hat. I thought it was dead until I picked it up to throw it outside.
Signature: Chris DiLullo
This is a Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus. It is an introduced species from the Caribbean and according to BugGuide: “Major pest of citrus crops: larvae often girdle the taproot, which may kill the plant and provide an avenue for Phythophora infections. A single larva can kill young hosts while several larvae can cause serious decline of older, established hosts. Pest of sugarcane in the Caribbean(2); earliest record in our area: FL 1964.”
Letter 8 – Weevil from South Africa
Subject: ID please
Location: Western Cape , South Africa
November 24, 2014 7:43 am
This delightful spotted bug I saw yesterday Nov 24 (summer in South Africa). It was on a bush that is found in the fynbos. This bush was next to a large (major) dam Theewaterskloof in the Western Cape .It din’t fly but was happy to crawl over the flower and down the stem I have included a pic of the terrain
What is it please?
This is a Weevil in the family Curculionidae and we found a similar looking individual on iSpot, but alas, it is only identified to the family level.
Thank you so much that was really quick – humble weevil aka a snout beetle, was hoing for new species 🙂
Letter 9 – Lily Weevil from South Africa
Subject: University Assignment
Location: Vereeniging, South Africa
February 21, 2015 6:19 am
I’m currently doing an assignment which requires me to find and identify insects that I come across and I recently found this beetle type thing. I’ve tried searching for the characteristics online but I haven’t found a picture that matches mine. It looks to be some type of beetle but it doesn’t seem to have any wings. It’s about 2 – 2.5cm long and about 1cm wide at its widest point. I live in South Africa, and it is currently the last month of Summer here. Please help!
We agree that this is a Beetle, and many species of beetles, including some members of the Blister Beetle family and the Darkling Beetle family, have fused elytra that prohibit the beetles from flying. We do not recognize this unusual beetle, and we plan to do additional research, but we have some errands to run this morning and we will return to this search. Right now, we can say that your beetle reminds us of Desert Spider Beetles in the family Meloidae, but we searched through six pages on iSpot without finding a match. Additionally, the antennae and legs are quite different. Meanwhile, can you please provide us with more information on the sighting. Where was it found? In the home? In the desert? On a plant? Just as we were about to post, we decided to see if it might be a Weevil, and we believe this is a Weevil in the genus Brachycerus based on this image and others posted to iSpot. We are going to go with Lily Weevil, Brachycerus labrusca, and there are several images on iSpot.
Letter 10 – Bird Poop Bug is Withy Weevil from Canada
Subject: anteater/poop bug
Location: calgary, alberta, canada
July 4, 2015 12:05 am
Where shall I start? Well I’m an avid fisher in alberta and tend to come across alot of creepy crawlers on my trips. Aswell as a fishing enthusiast, I am a bug lover….. like a HUGE bug lover. I talk to bugs, name them, baby talk with them, form friendships. (Except mosquitos, I loathe those blood sneaking, greedy little bastards! !!) Any who, upon one of my visits to chain lakes (alberta canada) I stumbled upon an adorable little creature. At first I thought it was a poop, a small bird poop. That is, until I saw it move. Upon closer inspection I noticed he had an anteater looking snout. I fell in love with this adorable little critter ! I named him Henry (pronounced on-ri) I think he was french canadian. Well I spent a good half hour admiring Henry and his adorable qualities. He crawled about doing his bug thing while I doted on his endearing qualities. I spent a good 10 minutes taking over 30 pictures of my new found friend. I adored him enough to want to take him home, but loved him enough not to keep him, alas he belongs in nature as Jesus/alah/budah intended. I eventually placed my sweet little buglet on a soft blade of grass and bid my farewell. Well, here I am at past midnight sitting on my couch bed admiring my phenomenal studioesque portraits of Henry when I decided to Google what kind of bug Henry is. I tried “bird poop bug” and “ant eater bug” to no avail, until stumbling upon you site. To you I plead, please help me identify Henry. I must know what beautiful creature grazed my life for just a brief moment. Your help is greatly appreciated!.
Signature: yours truly, Miss Panda
Dear Miss Panda,
We found your inquiry positively entertaining, and far more enjoyable to research than the typical, terse identification requests we typically receive. We found your Poplar and Willow Borer Weevil, Cryptorhynchus lapathi, identified on the Ibycter blog where it is called a “bird-turd weevil”, and then we turned to BugGuide for additional information. BugGuide provides the common names: “Poplar-and-Willow Curculio, Mottled Willow Borer, Willow Beetle, Withy Weevil” and states: “Adults and larvae are associated with various species of willow, poplar, alder and birch (Salicaceae, Betulaceae); larvae mine young stems.”
Letter 11 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: yellow beetle found north Florida
Location: Jacksonville Florida
December 3, 2015 6:58 am
Its about 60° and I found him next to my front door. Tried looking on your website and even google, nothing… Do you know?
This is a Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, and according to ID Tools: it is a serious introduced citrus pest with a wide range of non-citrus hosts as well: “This pest has a very wide host range, attacking more than 270 species of plants in 59 plant families, many with economic significance as well as ornamentals and wild plants, including: all cruciferous vegetables, Brassica oleracea, Acacia spp., Crotalaria spp., guava, Psidium guajava, kumquat, Fortunella spp., oak, Quercus spp., papaya, Carica papaya, potato, Solanum tuberosum, strawberry, Fragaria spp., sugarcane, Saccharum spp., sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas.” The tiny spider in the image is a Wall Spider.
Letter 12 – Diaprepes Root Weevil from Puerto Rico
Location: Bartolo, Lares PR
April 7, 2016 12:59 pm
Hi, just found this little guy in my garden, specifically on my Aji Dulce plant. What is it?
This is a Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus , a species found in the Caribbean as well as parts of the U.S. Here is an image from Insects of Puerto Rico. According to Featured Creatures, it “is a root weevil native to the Caribbean where at least 19 additional species within the genus are known. In the Caribbean, Diaprepes abbreviatus is one of the most economically important pests.”
Letter 13 – White Weevil from Saudi Arabia
Subject: What’s this insect?
Location: Saudi Arabia
June 4, 2016 7:05 pm
I want to ask you if this insect can do any harm *I found it on my arm while I’m half sleeping*.
Signature: whatever suits you.
Even before beginning any research, we are confident that this is a Weevil, a Beetle in the family Curculionidae and that it is white. You provided us with Saudi Arabia as a location, so we had three things with which to begin a web search. Our first hit was this image of a Pinstriped Ground Weevil, Ammocieonus aschabadensis, on Birds of Saudia Arabia and elsewhere on the site it states: “This species is common in Saudi Arabia around oasis fringes and on saltflats. They posses a rostrum with jaws situated at the extremity which they use to bore into plant tissue. They normally found on the ground near vegetation although they are sometimes also seen in low vegetation. They have a hard cuticle that protects them from enemies and are very well camouflaged and when threatened roll over on their backs and lash out with their feet which are armed with sharp claws. They are mainly seen between April and August.” The only other online documentation we could locate is this image on FlickR which is also posted to iNaturalist.
Letter 14 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: What’s this Bug?
Location: Hillsborough County, Florida
August 28, 2016 5:26 am
I have looked at all the black and white beetles and cannot find one that looks quite like this. It was on dog fennel in west central Florida. I would like to know what it is and if it is native. It looks like it is missing an antennae.
Thank you for this wonderful reference site.
Signature: Donna Bollenbach
This looks to us like a Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, a species that according to BugGuide is: “Native to the Caribbean, adventive and established in so. US: so. & central FL (1964), so. TX (Cameron & Hidalgo Cos 2000, Corpus Christi 2005, Houston 2009; map), so. CA (2005), LA (2008); further north in greenhouses.” BugGuide also indicates it is “highly polyphagous; larvae feed on roots, adults on foliage of citrus trees (esp. oranges in TX) and almost 300 other plant species” and “Major pest of citrus crops: larvae often girdle the taproot, which may kill the plant and provide an avenue for Phythophora infections. A single larva can kill young hosts while several larvae can cause serious decline of older, established hosts.”
Letter 15 – Weevil from South Africa
Geographic location of the bug: Port Shepstone, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Time: 10:27 AM EDT
Kindly advise what bug thismis
How you want your letter signed: Yes
This is some species of Weevil, commonly called a Snout Beetle.
Letter 16 – Weevil from South Africa
Subject: What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug: Cape Town, South Africa
Time: 09:19 AM EDT
Saw this yesterday in our garden just chilling in the sun. Never seen anything like this before. After some research almost looks like an Elepant Weevil however it isn’t natuve to South Africa. Can you confirm or help identify please?
How you want your letter signed: Michelle
This is definitely a Weevil or Snout Beetle in the family Curculionidae, and though we could not locate a similar looking individual on iSpot, we do have an unidentified Weevil from South Africa that looks very similar in our archives.
Many thanks Daniel for the prompt response.
I will continue to search and will update you if we find anything new
Letter 17 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: ID assistance – striped beetle?
Geographic location of the bug: Central Florida
Time: 04:10 PM EDT
Hi, I found this today near some leaf damage on a variety of holly – Ilex attenuata “Eagleston”
Never seen one before. Any idea? Thank you!
Nov. 16, 2017 – Central FL
How you want your letter signed: Frank
This is an introduced Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, and according to BugGuide it is: “color highly variable (from gray to yellow to orange to black)” and “highly polyphagous; larvae feed on roots, adults on foliage of citrus trees (esp. oranges in TX) and almost 300 other plant species.”
Letter 18 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: Black striped beetle
Geographic location of the bug: North San Diego County, CA
Time: 03:51 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This guy was sitting on a stucco wall, then moved to the pavement. Any idea what he/she is? He/she was about an inch long.
How you want your letter signed: Sarah L
Thanks for resending your images. We are currently undergoing some technical difficulties. This is a Diaprepes Root Weevil and according to BugGuide: “Native to the Caribbean, adventive and established in so. US: so. & central FL (1964), so. TX (Cameron & Hidalgo Cos 2000, Corpus Christi 2005, Houston 2009;), so. CA (2005), LA (2008); further north in greenhouses.” BugGuide also notes: “highly polyphagous; larvae feed on roots, adults on foliage of citrus trees (esp. oranges in TX) and almost 300 other plant species” and “Major pest of citrus crops.”
Thanks so much, Daniel! I’d never seen anything looking like that before here in Southern California. (And I’m a native!) I guess I’ll kill any others I find since I do have citrus trees.
Letter 19 – Diaprepes Root Weevil
Subject: Bug in the trunk
Geographic location of the bug: Santa Ana, CA
Time: 11:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This was hanging out inside my trunk. I used a twig to detach it, but it was holding on with super strength.
How you want your letter signed: Mike Michika
This is an invasive Diaprepes Root Weevil, Diaprepes abbreviatus, and according to the Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: “The diaprepes root weevil damages both the leaves and the roots of plants. The adult weevils damage leaves by chewing semi-circular areas out of the leaf margin. There may also be frass or weevil droppings near the areas that have been fed upon. The grub-like larva feeds on the roots of a plant, weakening or killing a plant.” According to the Center for Invasive Species Research: “This pest has a very wide host range, attacking more than 270 species of plants in 59 plant families. In Florida citrus groves, Diaprepes root damage allows, Phytophthora, a very serious and often lethal plant pathogen to invade roots further hastening the decline of trees.”