Little Leaf Notcher Weevils can be a terrible pest feeding upon your citrus plants. In this article, we talk about how to get rid of them and keep this menace away from your garden.
Keeping a few citrus trees in your garden is indeed a great way to ensure a supply of homegrown limes and other citrus fruits.
However, little leaf notcher weevils can sometimes prove to be a true nightmare, destroying your favorite citrus plants. These pests are notorious for feeding on almost every type of citrus plant out there, including hybrid ones.
In case your garden or orchard is infested with this type of beetle, you need to take up swift measures to deal with them.
Which Plants Does it Infest, and What Damage Does it Cause?
As the name suggests, the little leaf notcher weevil (Artipus floridanus) belongs to the Curculionidae family – the long-snouted beetles infamous for infesting and damaging plant matter. This particular weevil mostly infests citrus trees and is a common problem in orchards.
The little leaf notcher weevil earns its name from the damage it causes to the foliage of citrus plants and leaves.
These pests start feeding from the edge of a leaf and chew their way up to 5mm to 10mm inwards from the leaf margin.
Then, they move to a new position along the margin and repeat the process, forming several notches all along the edges of the leaves.
The injuries caused by these weevils can severely hamper crucial processes like photosynthesis, CO2 assimilation, and transpiration.
The weevil larvae of this species are even more dangerous and can kill a plant by severely damaging its roots.
The adults lay their eggs on citrus leaves, which ultimately fall off and carry the eggs or the larvae to the soil.
The newborn larvae then burrow underground and start feeding on the roots. Besides the direct damage caused by these larvae, the roots may also become infected with pathogens and start to rot.
Lifecycle of the Little Leaf Notcher
Before we get to the part about how to eliminate these pests, let’s find out more about their lifecycle.
As mentioned earlier, the little leaf notcher weevil causes damage to plants both during the larval and mature stages.
The eggs of these weevils are round in shape, and the color ranges from white to yellow.
Adult weevils usually lay them on the leaves of a host plant, but they might also use the stem or the trunk instead.
These eggs take up to 20 days to hatch, releasing the larvae mentioned earlier.
The larvae hatching from the eggs look like white grubs and have a darker and hardened head capsule.
They go through six instars during the larval stage, growing up to 9.5 mm long during the final instar.
It takes around 45 days for the larvae to be ready to pupate or enter dormancy. Throughout this time, they remain underground and continue to feed on the roots of the host plant.
The pupal stage lasts about 14 to 20 days. Interestingly, these weevils pupate inside small chambers created in their excrement. They stop feeding during the pupal stage and emerge as adult weevils at the end of pupation.
After pupating and emerging as adults, the weevils climb up the tree trunk to reach the foliage, where they can start feeding. Adult leaf notcher weevils can live up to 165 days and have rapid reproductive cycles. Each adult female can lay up to around 1220 eggs, most of which hatch successfully.
How To Control The Pest
So, I guess you’re unsure about the right control method to deal with these weevils. Don’t worry; although it’s a tough pest; there are several ways to control it:
This method refers to the practice of culturing your garden or orchard in specific ways to eliminate pests. Here are a few tips on the cultural control of little leaf notcher weevils:
- Identify host plants that have already been infested and remove them.
- Remove weeds to keep the areas under trees and crops clean.
- Ensure proper irrigation, drainage, and fertilization to help the plants remain healthy.
- Use rootstocks that are resistant to the weevils.
This is one of the simplest methods but may involve removing parts of the infested plants. There are two types of mechanical control that you may use against adult weevils infesting citrus plants:
- Manually removing the pests by hand.
- Pruning away infested vegetation.
- Using sticky tape to trap adult weevils.
The use of biological agents like beneficial nematodes is an effective way to kill weevils at the larval stage, thus reducing the scope of weevil damage significantly.
Nematodes are microscopic worms that dwell in the soil and help eliminate weevils or weevil larvae infesting the roots.
The application of nematodes is easy – they’re available commercially in the form of sprays. There are several species of nematodes used in pest control, but the most effective ones against citrus weevils are:
- Sterinernema carpocapsae
- Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
- Steinernema riobravis
The Beauveria bassiana fungus is an effective means of biological control too. This parasitic fungus kills a variety of pests by causing white muscardine disease and is effective against adult leaf notchers.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, parasitoids are insect species that spend their larval stage as parasites and ultimately kill their hosts.
Certain parasitoids act as natural enemies to leaf notchers, laying eggs in their larvae.
Maintaining diverse vegetation with adequate resources in the garden would make it a suitable habitat for such parasitoids.
If you are dealing with a large infestation or need quick results, you need to implement chemical control.
Methods of chemical control against leaf notcher weevils include:
- Desiccating or removing adult weevils using insecticidal oils and soaps.
- Setting up chemical barriers and soil drenches around the bases of citrus trees to control larval populations.
- Using foliar sprays both to destroy egg masses and eliminate the adults.
In case none of the above methods work, insecticides might be the only solution. You may apply insecticides in rotation with nematodes and other biological control methods. However, consider the potential negative effects of using insecticides first and use them only as a last resort.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there weevils in Florida?
Yes, there are plenty of weevils in Florida, including species that are native to the state. The pest we’re discussing, the leaf notcher weevil, is quite common here as well. If you have a garden or an orchard with citrus trees in Florida, you should be vigilant for the weevils.
What spray kills weevils?
Nematode sprays are quite effective against weevils, among non-chemical solutions. If you have to apply insecticidal sprays, aerosols like Novacide and Pyrid are good options. It’s best to use insecticides that contain insect growth regulators, as they’re very effective against the eggs and larvae too.
What causes weevil infestation?
There’s no specific cause behind weevil infestations besides the availability of food and a suitable environment. Just like grain weevils are a common problem in pantries, little leaf notcher weevils infest orchards whenever they get a chance. Damp and humid conditions are particularly attractive to them.
How do you get rid of weevils naturally?
Cultural and mechanical control are the most basic ways to get rid of weevils naturally. If these methods don’t work, you may make use of parasitoids or biological agents like nematodes and insecticidal fungi.
The citrus industry suffers the most from these weevils, but regular individuals like you and me who love having citrus trees in the garden need to watch out too.
The leaf notcher is somewhat similar to the Sri Lanka weevil, so you should make sure to identify it properly before taking up preventive measures.
Hopefully, you found this guide useful and can now deal with those weevils without much problem.
As mentioned above, the Sri Lanka weevil does look a lot like the little leaf notcher. Moreover, some of our readers checked in with us to find out if these weevils were destructive or dangerous.
Do go through some of the live pics and emails from our readers.
Letter 1 – Sri Lanka Weevil
What’s this white bug….
Location: Naples, FL
December 15, 2011 12:55 pm
I have found a few of these white ”ladybug” type insects on my Hybiscus tree in Naples FL. It is December (winter in Paradise). They are about the size of a small ladybug….it doesn’t look like they have eaten any of the leaves…you have to zoom in to see it better.
This appears to be a Little Leaf Notcher Weevil, Artipus floridanus, a native species found in “hammock, pineland, mangrove” and considered to be “a minor pest of Citrus and other plants” according to BugGuide. We wish your photo was a closer view because we cannot, however, discount that this might actually be an invasive species, the Sri Lanka Weevil or Yellow-headed Ravenous Weevil, Myllocerus undecimpustulatus, which is also pictured on BugGuide where it is stated: “in FL, recorded from 55 host plant spp., from palms to roadside weeds, including citrus.”
Thanks, I believe that the head is white, so it’sprobably a Little Leaf Notcher Weevil….I checked it with a magnifying glass. I appreciate your time SherrieB
Hi again SherrieB,
A reader just left a comment that this is the Sri Lanka Weevil. We have requested additional information.
Letter 2 – Little Leaf Notcher Weevil or Sri Lanka Weevil
Location: Saint Petersburg, FL
February 12, 2012 7:43 pm
I have a couple bugs that are tiny and white / gray in color. I believe last nights temperatures, 35f here in Saint Petersburg, FL, caused a ton of these weevils? to fall out of an oak tree that hangs over our backyard driveway.
The other picture is of something I cannot explain. I very slow moving bug that inches along with a snout that acts like a worm, dragging behind it is a flat white body that looks like white lent. They seem to travel up the walls inside the patio and garage and attach to a surface with a strand of silk and hang there until they die. The lifecycle seems strange, because I figured they would attach, coccon and molt into something, but that doesn’t seem the case. Any ideas?
Your pale gray weevil is either a native Little Leaf Notcher Weevil, Artipus floridanus, (see BugGuide), or the invasive, exotic Sri Lanka Weevil, Myllocerus undecimpustulatus, which according to BugGuide, is “similar to Artipus floridanus but has spines on the hind femur and a yellowish tint to the head.” There is not enough detail in your photo for us to be able to say for certain which species this is, though one of our readers with more experience might be able to provide a more conclusive identification. Your other submission is a Case Bearing Moth Larva.
I do appreciate the response. I read about this invasive version of the weevil through one of your responses to another reader, but only after I had already snapped the pictures, and researched bugguide (I like their visual anatomy index). I don’t remember seeing the yellow tent, though I wasn’t looking for it, so I could have easily missed it. As for the other submission, I just wanted to send a better picture of the 2nd bug and the source of my frustration (they come out of the floorboard / wall seemingly in enough numbers to be noticed everyday.) Again I appreciate the response, first time submitter, but I’ve known about your site for years. Keep up the good work.
Just take a look at this Case Bearing Moth Larvae situation.
Letter 3 – Mating Citrus Leaf Weevils, we believe
Subject: Mystery Weevils?
Location: Circle B Bar Reserve FL
October 14, 2015 5:24 am
Hello, here is another challenge for you!
This time they are weevils I think.
The image was taken June 23, 2014.
Signature: Cicada Lover
Dear Cicada Lover,
We believe these are mating, native Little Leaf Notcher Weevils, Artipus floridanus, based on images posted to BugGuide. We do not want to discount that they might be the very similar looking Yellow-Headed Ravenous Weevil or Sri Lanka Weevil, Myllocerus undecimpustulatus, an introduced species also found in Florida and profiled on BugGuide.
Update: October 25, 2015
We have received a comment that these are most likely Citrus Root Weevils in the genus Pachnaeus, and there are supporting images on BugGuide.
Letter 4 – Sri Lanka Weevil
Subject: White Bug
Location: Delray Beach Florida
June 25, 2017 12:50 pm
Hello, I live in Delray Beach Florida. This white spotted hard shell bug has recently showed up all over my popcorn cassia and two of my infant oak treas. I’ve looked all over and cannot figure out what this bug is. If it’s not harming my trees then they can stay but for some reason I think they are up to no good! If you could help me I would greatly appreciate it.
Signature: Amy Shuttleworth
We believe this is a Little Leaf Notcher Weevil, Artipus floridanus, because of images posted to BugGuide where it states: “a minor pest of Citrus and other plants.” We would not rule out that this might be the Yellow Headed Ravenous Weevil or Sri Lanka Weevil, , which according to BugGuide: “n FL, recorded from 55 host plant spp., from palms to roadside weeds, including citrus.” There is not enough detail in your image to determine if it “has spines on the hind femur and a yellowish tint to the head.”
Letter 5 – Weevil, possibly Strawberry Root Weevil
Beetle found in bathroom
Sat, Oct 25, 2008 at 8:35 AM
We keep finding these beetles in the bathroom, and rarely in the kitchen (adjoining walls).
I think they are between 1/8 and 1/4 inch long.
They are black, and havea hard shell
Can you tell us what they are?
No house plants, no window in the bathroom.
We do have trees and plants outside, and have been bringing in dirt and manure to improve the yard.
Joe and Kathy
Oregon – near Portland
Hi Joe and Kathy,
While there are some Weevils that infest stored grain products, this is not one of them. We did some searching on Bugguide, and believe your Weevil is in the genus Otiorhynchus. Two species possibilities are Otiorhynchus sulcatus, Black Vine Weevil, which “may seek out hibernation sites in homes” or Otiorhynchus ovatus , the Strawberry Root Weevil , which feeds on “strawberries, other herbaceous plants, and tree seedlings in nurseries; larvae live in the soil, and feed continuously on the roots of seedlings; adults feed at night on the leaves, stem, and berries.” If that dirt and manure you are adding to your yard is being used to fertilize strawberries, we would vote for the Strawberry Root Weevil.
Letter 6 – Weevil in the genus Mecopus from Malaysia
Subject: Unidentified Weevil From Malaysia
March 13, 2014 8:20 am
Hi, this is a weird weevil that i found on the dead tree in my backyard. This weevil has a weird eyes. Can you ID it for me?
Update: January 25, 2016
We just received a comment that FlickR now has an update with the genus on the posting we cited. Additionally, there are good images on PaDIL, an Australian Biosecurity and Biodiversity site.
Letter 7 – Weevil Mating Activity in the Philippines
Subject: Pretty, but what is it?
Location: Baguio City, Philippines
March 7, 2015 9:01 pm
Hi, bugman! 🙂 I took a photo of this little guy late February in Baguio City, Philippines. After a while, a smaller version of the bug decided to hang out on him (her?). A reverse search of google images yielded no results, and my curiosity is killing me. An ID would be much appreciated — then I would no longer have to caption the photographs as “funky bugs!” 🙂
Signature: Thanks, Isa
All we can provide at this time is that these are Weevils, beetles in the family Curculionidae, and that they appear to be engaging in mating activity, including competition to see who gets the fertile female.
Thanks for the quick reply, Daniel! Much a lot! 🙂
Letter 8 – Fungus Weevil from Trinidad
Subject: Giant Weevil
April 5, 2015 1:47 am
This beetle was attracted to a light. It looked like a very large broad-nosed weevil to me, maybe 2 cm.
Signature: Steve Nanz
We agree that this looks like a Weevil, though we have never seen a Weevil image with such long antennae. That trait is more like a Longicorn in the family Cerambycidae. We have not been able to locate any matching images from either family from Trinidad, or any other place for that matter, so we are posting this beetle without identifying it and we hope to get a second opinion, and perhaps some assistance from our readership.
Cesar Crash of Insetologia, a Brazilian site similar to our own, provided us with a link to the Paraguay Biodiversidad site of the family Anthribidae that includes an image of Ptychoderes mixtus that looks identical to the image submitted by Steve. A similar image can be found on the Coleoptera Neotropical site. Anthribidae are commonly called Fungus Weevils.
Eric Eaton confirms
This is a fungus weevil, family Anthribidae. Males of many species have really long antennae.
Thank you for the update and thanks to Cesar Crash for pointing me toward a possible ID. The descriptions for many in this genus are in German which I don’t speak. However I did find a key to some of the species:
Karl Jordan, 1907. Biologigia Central-America. Insecta. Coleoptera 5(6): 303
It appears that Ptychoderes mixtus is a good contender and may be in range. Ptychoderes rugicollis is also possible. Barcoding Life images show the latter with shorter antennae. There are no images of the former. So P. mixtus does seem like a reasonable tentative ID.
Letter 9 – Little Leaf Notcher Weevil: Invasive species from Sri Lanka
powdery white beetle in Florida
Hi, I live in South Florida and found two of these in my daughter’s little playhouse outside in the yard. They’re quite small — just a bit bigger than a lady bug. They are a dull, powdery white. I can’t find them online anywhere. Do you know what they are? (The photos are also attached.) Many thanks,
Cindy Glover, Lake Worth, FL
Your insect is a Little Leaf Notcher Weevil, Myllocerus undatus. It is not a native species and has been reported from Florida. BugGuide has an excellent image, and a Florida Pest Alert Website lists 68 plants that can be damaged by this invasive species from Sri Lanka.