Weevils attack plants at all stages of their lives. When you see them in your garden, your first task should be to get rid of them, and in this blog, we will help you do it.
Weevils are pests that attack plants, leaves, and plant roots and are capable of completely destroying your garden very quickly.
These pests do not harm humans, but if they get in your garden, you should immediately find ways to get them out.
In this article, we will talk about how to identify weevils, what damage they can do, and discuss a few natural ways to remove them.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
What Are Weevils?
First of all, “weevil” does not refer to any one insect. There are over 40,000 species of weevils, of which nearly 3,300 are found in North America.
In fact, here is a small list of the different types of weevils you might be facing, often depending on what you are growing in your garden.
- Rice weevil – Wheat, oats, rye, corn, or other grains
- Boll weevil – Cotton plants
- Rose weevil – Flowers, ornamental plants
- Black vine weevil – trees, shrubs, plants, and herbs
- White pine weevil – Spruce, lodgepole pines, pine, and black spruce
Different species look for different types of crops to attack, and while some might attack the roots more, others will be heading toward the leaves of the plant.
Most often, adult weevils are more interested in the stems and leaves of the plants, while larvae attack the roots. Over time, if the plant roots get destroyed, they can wither away and die.
In this article, we will focus more on garden weevils.
These little guys are flightless and look like pigs when you see them up close. They can cause a lot of damage to your garden if you are not careful.
What Do They Look Like?
Adult garden weevils (Phlyctinus callosus) are extremely tiny (about three-quarters of an inch in length). They have long, oval-shaped bodies and are grayish in color. They are a type of beetle without wings.
The most distinctive feature of this bug is its snout. It’s actually more of an extension of the mouth rather than a breathing apparatus and has mouthparts at the end for cutting and chewing plants.
Apart from its long snout, you will also see two antennae and a pair of large, compound eyes on its mouth.
Beyond the head is the thorax, which has the first pair of legs and is then followed up by two more pairs of legs on the underside. If you look closely at their legs, you will notice they have evolved small hooks on them.
These hooks are a great help for hanging on to plants in any orientation and climbing on the leaves while they are looking for the juiciest parts of the plant.
The last section of the body has wing cases but no wings. It’s a big, fat bottom with a v-shaped band on it.
The larvae of these beetles are small, grub-like creatures about ½ inch in length.
What Does Weevil Damage Look Like?
Have you been noticing notches on the leaves of your plants lately? Yes, that’s a telltale sign of weevils.
Weevils usually emerge during late summer and early spring, looking to feed on garden plants like rhododendrons, strawberries, huckleberries, and more.
If the adults have already mated, the eggs would have dropped down into the soil, and you would be able to see them around the plant.
If the larvae have hatched, you will soon start to notice yellowed leaves and withered plants in your garden.
Weevil Life Cycle
It is important to understand the lifecycle of the weevil a little bit because your actions will depend on which stage you find them in your garden.
Adult weevils lay eggs in the soil. You can even see them near the base of your plants. They love to find plants such as rhododendrons, which are excellent sources of food for their young ones.
The eggs hatch in late summer, and the larvae that emerge burrow holes in the soil, overwintering and feeding on the plant root.
The more the larvae grow, the deeper they go and eat larger roots of the plant.
Towards the start of spring, these larvae pupate and get ready to become adults. The adults come out and start feeding on the plant leaves. It takes them about a month and a half to get ready to lay their own eggs.
All weevils are females and have the capacity to lay eggs. Each can lay about 200 eggs in the next three to four months, the average lifespan of these pests.
How To Get Rid of Weevils From Your Garden: Organic Ways
Having weevils in your garden can have disastrous consequences. However, before we get into drastic steps like using insecticides, we suggest that you try some organic ways to remove them.
Putting insecticides in your crops, especially food crops, is a very bad idea. Moreover, even if you are not growing food crops, insecticides do not differentiate between good and bad insects.
Therefore, try these simple and effective organic ways before trying other things.
Moist soil is a happy hunting ground for weevil larvae. Without moisture, they find it difficult to dig their burrows.
By removing mulch, you take away the moisture of the soil and hence make it inhospitable for weevils.
However, a word of caution: removing mulch is bad for the soil as well as the plants. It is a crucial component of keeping the soil hydrated.
Therefore, only take this step if you are sure that your garden is infested by weevils.
Moreover, try to do it in as little area as possible, exposing the weevils but still keeping mulch on wherever it is not necessary to remove it.
Removal by hand
While removing weevils by hand seems (and is) tedious, it is the safest way to go about it.
Put some paper or cardboard under the infested plant, and shake the plant. While the critters have claws in their feet, they cannot hold on to them if you shake vigorously.
As weevils start falling down, collect and crush them and put them in a sealed bag. You can also drop them in some boiling water or a solution of vinegar, water, and soap to finish them off.
Now, go back to the plant and inspect it again. If you see a few weevils still moving about, pick them up and crush them by hand.
You should also inspect the soil underneath and do the same with any larvae that you find. Do this repeatedly for a few days, and you should be able to get rid of the pests permanently.
Diatomaceous Earth, or DE, is an extremely useful and safe biological insecticide that helps removes not just weevils but many other pests, such as thrips, springtails, box elder bugs, and so on.
DE is actually the fossilized form of algae called diatom. It contains silicon dioxide, which is the active ingredient for many other insecticides as well. The best part is that this product is completely safe for human use and even for babies and pets.
In most cases, you can buy diatomaceous earth in powder form from nearby gardening stores. Spread it generously in the soil near your plants and also make a perimeter near your house and garden.
This substance breaks the hard exoskeletons of weevils and other pests, which kills them off, usually within the next two to three days.
Many larger bugs, amphibians, and birds eat weevils. Frogs, toads, shrews, green lacewings, grasshoppers, and ladybugs eat weevils as well.
Some of these insects can be introduced to your garden. For example, you can always buy ladybugs and beetles and introduce them in your garden. They will quickly wipe out weevils and, in fact, any other pests that you have around you.
These beetles do not eat plants, and once your pests are gone they will automatically move away in search of other foods, so this is a very beneficial strategy.
Nematodes are microscopic organisms that are parasitic to weevils and many other pests. These nematodes are easy to find at any store that sells gardening products.
They feed on the weevils from the inside, hollowing out their bodies and killing them off surprisingly quickly. They don’t even leave the larvae.
It takes about two days for the effect to start showing. Unfortunately, this strategy does not work against any eggs in the soil, so you should also follow some of the other steps (such as removing mulch) in order to effectively remove weevils completely.
Insect sticky traps is a standard way to catch pests in large plantations and farms. It can work well in your garden as well.
Sticky traps are a very simple devices – its like sticky colored tape, which is attractive to pests and has a layer of glue on it.
When the insect walk on the tape, it gets stuck and cannot move.
All you need to do is to place these tapes near the base of your plants. If there are weevils moving about, they will start getting stuck on it.
If there is a heavy infestation, you will have to keep changing the tape every few days because it will become too heavy with all the bugs trapped on it.
To dispose of the tape, make sure to follow the instructions we mentioned earlier – put the bugs in boiling water or a sealed bag and throw them a distance away from your garden.
There are many options for sticky traps available, and you can even make one on your own. You can use adhesives such as non-drying glue on the tape to get the insects. Here’s a video explaining how to make a simple trap.
This strategy has its limitations. It does not kill of the larvae or eggs, so you need to supplement it with diatomaceous earth or other ways.
Moreover, they don’t work when it is raining and need to be replaced quite often. But for a small-sized infestation, they are a better way than manual removal.
Insect Repellent Plants
There are a few types of plants whose odor is naturally repellant to most arthropods, weevils included. Some of these are onions, mint, catnip, and bay leaves.
Bay leaves, in particular, are very powerful in containing a weevil infestation. If you can add these plants to your garden at strategic places, it will help in keeping your plants safe.
Don’t Water Excessively
You don’t need to water your plant a lot if it is already raining outside, or there is dew in the morning. Excess moisture makes the soil a good breeding ground for weevils.
A Word on Choosing Insecticides
If none of the above ways helps to solve your problem, then perhaps you would have to look at more drastic steps for dealing with these pests.
When going for insecticides, we always suggest using narrow-spectrum ones that only harm the particular pest that you are targeting.
Broad-spectrum insecticides can harm beneficial insects in your garden, which can damage the delicate ecological balance and ultimately harm your plants.
Moreover, food crops should never be exposed to insecticides since they can get into your food and be very damaging, especially for children.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kills weevils instantly?
One of the fastest ways to kill weevils is to use diatomaceous earth. But if you are looking for an instant solution, Novacide is considered a good insecticide for finishing them off instantly.
This is a powerful insect killer that will work on weevils, their larvae and eggs. However the effects of using Novacide last for upto seven months, so be wary of using it on any food crops.
Does vinegar get rid of weevils?
Yes, vinegar and water solution can kill weevils. This is a useful method for getting rid of many pests, including aphids, thrips and weevils.
You can make a solution of one part vinegar and one part water and pour it into a spraying bottle. Liberally douse the leaves and the nearby soil with this solution and let it take effect.
Will weevils go away on their own?
Weevils will vanish in the winters and seem to reappear during the summer time. Actually their larvae overwinter in the soil near your plants, and the adults die off.
This gives the appearance that they are gone, but typically a weevil infestation is not so easy to get rid of without persistent efforts.
Do weevils spread around the house?
Yes, they can often get inside homes through open windows or get carried along with bedding. Weevils also enter homes through infested food such as rice or other food items.
They are hard to get rid of, so in case of such infestation, you need to clean out your kitchen very thoroughly and remove these pests.
There are many natural ways to remove weevils, depending on the intensity of the infestation. From sticky traps to diatomaceous earth and beneficial insects in your garden, all these methods have worked well for other gardeners.
Do try these out in your home and let us know how it went. Thank you for reading!
Weevils can be a menace, whether they are in your home or your garden. Read below some of our reader emails, talking about these bugs and how they got rid of them.
Letter 1 – Mating Netwing Beetles and Unknown Weevil (possibly Agave Billbug) from New Mexico
My name is Ernest Mendez, and I vacation in the Southwest, digital camera ever at the ready. On my last trip to New Mexico, I visited my usual haunts—Rockhound and Spring Canyon State Parks—and came across these two hitherto unknown (to me) species of bugs…. Can you tell me what they are…and whatever else you can tell me about them? I’ve been trying to find info about them on the web, but it’s not easy. The closest I’ve been able to get has been the Bangolore beetle (for the “long-nosed” black one). Help,
Ernesto L. Mendez
The orange and black couple are mating Netwing Beetles, Lycus arizonensis. Adults feed on nectar and honeydew. Your long-nosed black beetle is a Weevil. Weevils are the largest family of beetles in the world. We believe it is the Agave Billbug, Scyphophorus acupunctatus.
Letter 2 – Mating Hollyhock Weevils
Hi there! Just a follow-up to my recent e-mail …I’ve been completely mesmerized by your site. I ’ve re-discovered my “inner child ”and bugs with a macro lens I picked up this spring. You have some wonderful pic tures and information on your site! Inspired by your “Love Bug ”section, h ere ’s one of my first macro shots from earlier this year of a pair of very tiny Hollyhock Weevils doing what it seems like they ’re alw ays doing
Thanks for sending us your great image of mating Hollyhock Weevils, Apion longirostre. We did some internet research and found a page devoted to them when they were the Bug of the Month back in August 1998. Your letter has us a bit confused. Your email address matches the person who signed another letter with a Brown Lynx Spider, but from a different email address, and your mysterious initial only signature seems to match the name on the other email.
Letter 3 – Hitch Hiking Weevil? with Monochamus ride
long horned wood borer with hitchhiker
Love your sight! As an entomologist, can’t get enough bugs 🙂 We took these picture during our vacation in Prince Edward Island, Canada this summer and thought you might like them for your site. Any idea who the hitch hiker is on the long horn?
Based on what little we know and the difficulty of seeing details in your image, it appears the hitch-hiker is a weevil of some type. Just what the Weevil was doing on the Monochamus Borer is the real question.
Letter 4 – Lost in the Archives: Colorful Weevil and Spiny Walkingstick from New Guinea
Bugs in Papua New Guinea
I was wondering if you new what these bug are? Last year I lived in a small village on the northern side of PNG for 5 months, and took these photos while out and about. Thanks
First we have to apologize for the lengthy delay. Your letter was lost in the archive until our new email system revealed your gorgeous photos. Daniel, our generous web host, devised a new email system that would be more efficient. This new system allows us to see images before reading emails, so we can choose the most gorgeous and interesting images. Your photos are stunning, and it took us some time to match them with the email from long ago since the system is effective with new letters, but there was a problem with the archive. The blue beetle is a Weevil in the genus Eupholus. There are quite a few members of this genus in New Guinea, but your photo matches a specimen called Eupholus geoffroyi that we located online on the Papua Insects Foundation. Your other insect is most definitely a Phasmid or Walkingstick. New Guinea has one species, Eurycantha calcarata, known as the Spiny Devil, but it is much more robust than your photo. We found a much closer match on the Papua Insects Foundation phasmid page, but sadly, it was not identified. Perhaps someone will be able to identify this amazing spiny Walkingstick.
Letter 5 – Large Chestnut Weevil
Subject: What on earth is this bug?
Location: Midwest United States
August 23, 2012 2:14 pm
I suspect this is a weevil of some sort? It was photographed by a friend of mine in Chicago in August.
This is one of the Nut and Acorn Weevils in the genus Curculio, and we suspect it is the Large Chestnut Weevil, Curculio proboscideus, based on the photos posted to BugGuide which states: “Females chew holes through the bur and into the nut to make a suitable place in which to lay eggs. Each female lays about 25 eggs which hatch in about one week. Larvae feed 6 to 10 weeks then chew their way out of fallen nuts and enter the ground where they spend the winter and spring. Larvae pupate in late spring and early summer. Adults begin to appear about the first of August.”
Letter 6 – Diamond Weevil from Brazil
Subject: Re: Diamond backed Beetle
April 10, 2013 4:23 pm
I think I identified it, but not from a picture. I can’t find a picture anywhere.
It is an Imperial Diamond Beetle found mostly in South America. I identified it from a description found in an online Heritage Dictionary for an Imperial Diamond Beetle of Brazil, Zoology by George Shaw. It also has a sketch. It is also described in Chamber’s Encyclopaedia.
Am I correct? Do you know where I may find other photographs?
Our search for Imperial Diamond Beetle did not turn up anything, but we recognized this beetle as a Weevil, so we searched “weevil Brazil” and we were led to the Wired.com site and a description of the Diamond Weevil, Entimus imperialis. According to Wired.com: “The scales are a type of three-dimensional crystal, called a photonic crystal, which is much like an opal. Each kind of photonic crystal reflects a specific wavelength of light at a specific orientation. Other crystals lacking a regular 3-D structure, meanwhile, aren’t as brilliant or iridescent.” Democratic Underground is another place to find information on the Diamond Weevil: “The reason some insects change color depending on the angle you look at them is due to the structure of their pigmentation — specifically the number of dimensions and shape of photonic crystals on their exoskeleton. Entimus imperialis has three-dimensional photonic crystals in these pits, arranged in a diamond-type structure. The functional effect of this is that depending on your distance and the lighting, the insect can look remarkably different. “
Thanks for your help in identifying this beetle.
FYI: The entry called it an Imperial Beetle (without the diamond) – my mistake. So that’s why I couldn’t find any photos anywhere. But I believe they are one and the same.
Letter 7 – Gold Dust Weevil and Immature Citron Bug from Malaysia
Subject: Beetles on Loofah flowers
Location: Kedah, Malaysia
February 5, 2014 2:49 am
I found these two insects on yellow loofah flowers. I am not sure if the two are related (e.g. male/female). Both are small, body is about 1 cm long.
The brown and orange one have leaf-footed like feature.
Weather : Hot and humid
Climate : Tropical
Hi again Cohlinn,
The yellow insect with what we believe is an immature Citron Bug is a Weevil, one of a group of beetles in the superfamily Curculionoidea. At first we did have not had any luck identifying the species despite locating two matching images online. There is an unidentified Weevil posted to The Flying Kiwi’s Cambodian Bugs page (scroll down to see it), and another image of an individual taken in Malaysia posted to FlickR. Another unidentified individual is pictured on Interesting PHotos. We then located some images on Project Noah that are identified as Gold Dust Weevils, Hypomeces squamosus. An individual from China is pictured on SinoBug. Finally, a mating pair is pictured on PBase.
Letter 8 – Giraffe Weevil from Malaysia
Subject: Alien creature
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
December 9, 2015 7:32 pm
I haven’t asked you guys anything in a while because I’ve been really busy. I found this on a leaf of my water apple plant. What is it and how can I get rid of it?
WE identified your Giraffe Weevil, Korotyaevirhinus necopinus orientalis, Legalov, 2003, first on the Amazing World of Malaysia’s Flora and Fauna site where there was no name and then on the Up Close With Nature site where we learned its identity. We do not provide extermination advice.
Letter 9 – Mating Weevils from India
Subject: Need ID: Bugs seen mating in Mumbai, India
Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra – India
August 9, 2016 12:45 am
Spotted these bugs in the moist deciduous forest in the monsoon season here in Mumbai.
Signature: Rizwan Mithawala
Your image of mating Weevils is quite stunning. It depicts both the mating behavior and the damage the beetles make to the leaves while feeding. Many Weevils are generalist feeders, meaning they do not limit their diet to a single plant, or even a single genus or family. We are not sure of the species, and since Weevils are members of the largest family of animals on planet earth, and since India does not have the best online archive for insect identification, we are not even going to attempt a species identification, but we would challenge our readership to give it a try.
Thank you so much for your help!
Could it be this one?
Asiatic oak weevil
Photographer & Correspondent
The Times of India, Mumbai
Perhaps. Was it feeding on Oak or Chestnut?
Sorry, I don’t know. Can you guess looking at the leaves?
sorry, we are What’s That Bug? not What’s That Leaf?
Hahaha…thanks for your help!
Our pleasure Rizwan. Seriously, we really have no scientific credentials and this site began as a lark many years ago as part of an art project/writing collaboration. Since knowing the plant upon which a particular insect is feeding is often a great assistance in the identification process, we are going back to your original uncropped image and posting it as well. Weevils are such an enormous family, and though it does contain many colorful and distinctive species, most are rather drab and ordinary, and look alike to our relatively untrained eyes. Proper identification of insects often includes careful examination of the actual specimen, counting things like antennae segments, or wing veins, or even the examination of genitalia, and all of that is well beyond our capabilities. Additionally, many folks just want to know what something is in a general sense, and not a specific one. We are pretty good at general. Specific often eludes us. We never really know what the purpose of an identification request is when we receive it. Is it feeding on a treasured plant in the garden? Was it seen on vacation? Will it bite and kill me? Is this an exotic introduction that will decimate the crops in its newly expanded range? These are just some of the myriad possibilities that go unstated when a brief request is made. Perhaps someday a real expert will see your image on our site and write in and comment with a proper identification.
Thanks so much; really appreciate your interest and efforts. These pictures are shot for a newspaper story about how life flourishes in the monsoon (in the forest). It’s a photo-feature about the season of abundance, feeding and mating. Hence, I needed to identify the beetles and know their role in the forest ecosystem. Any additional information you can share will be of great help for me. Thanks!
Hi again Rizwan,
We suspect general weevil information will suffice for your readership, and exact species information might not be necessary.
Letter 10 – Mating Figwort Weevils from England
Subject: Black and white bug
Geographic location of the bug: Southern England
Time: 03:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: This bug was seen in a garden center and it looks like it’s mating
How you want your letter signed: Rick Powell
These are mating Figwort Weevils, Cionus scrophulariae, which we identified on Bug Blog and the verified its identity on UK Beetle Recording. According to Nature Spot: “Fairly frequent and widespread in Britain with fewer records from the north” and the habitat is “Around the foodplants Figwort and Mullein.”