Group Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Title: pepper weevil
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00027102/00001
 Material Information
Title: pepper weevil
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Goff, C. C.
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Publication Date: 1937
Copyright Date: 1937
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00027102
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aen5010 - LTUF
12245804 - OCLC
000924390 - AlephBibNum

Table of Contents
        Historic note
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
Full Text


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida

Bulletin 310 May, 1937




Fig. 1.-Side view of the pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii Cano.

Bulletins will be sent free to Florida residents upon application to

John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of Geo. H. Baldwin, Chairman, Jacksonville
the University Oliver J. Semmes, Pensacola
Wilmon Newell, D.Sc., Director Harry C. Duncan, Tavares
H. Harold Hume, M.S., Asst. Dir., Research Thomas W. Bryant, Lakeland
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Asst. Dir., Adm. R. P. Terry, Miami
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant Editor
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Assistant Editor
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian BRANCH STATIONS
Ruby Newhall, Administrative Manager
K. H. Graham, Business Manager NORTH FLORIDA STATION, QUINCY
Rachel McQuarrie, Accountant
Rachel McQuarrie, Accountant Gratz, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
MAIN STATION, GAINESVILLE R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
J. D. Warner, M.S., Agronomist
AGRONOMY Jesse Reeves, Farm Superintendent
W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist** CITRUS STATION, LAKE ALFRED
W. A. Leukel, Ph.D. Agronomist A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Horticulturist in Charge
G. E. Ritchey, M.S.A., Associate* John H. Jefferies, Superintendent
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Associate W. A. Kuntz, A.M., Assoc. Plant Pathologist
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate Michael Peech, Ph.D., Soils Chemist
John P. Camp, M.S., Assistant B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Associate Chemist
ANIMAL HUSBANDRY W. L. Thompson, B.S., Asst. Entomologist
Walter Reuther. B. S., Asst. Horticulturist
A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., Animal Husbandman**
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman EVERGLADES STATION, BELLE GLADE
L. M. Thurston, Ph.D., Dairy Technician A Daane, Ph.D., Agronomist in Charge
W. M. Neal, Ph.D., Asso. in An. Nutrition R. N. Lobdell, M.S., Entomologist
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agronomist
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., Veterinarian Thomas Bregger, Ph.D., Sugarcane Physiologist
N. Mehrhof, M.Agr., Poultry Husbandman G R Townsend Ph.D., Assistant Plant
W. W. Henley, B.S.A., Asst. An. Hush.* Pathologist
W. G. Kirk, Ph.D., Asst. An. Husbandman J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Biochemist
R. M. Crown, M.S.A., Asst. An. Husbandman R. W. Kidder, BS., Assistant Animal
P. T. Dix Arnold, B.S.A., Assistant Dairy Husbandman
Husbandman Ross E. Robertson, B.S., Assistant Chemist
L. L. Rusoff, M.S., Laboratory Assistant B. S. Clayton, B.S.C.E., Drainage Engineer*
Jeanette Shaw, M.S., Laboratory Technician
SV. Allison, Ph.D., Chemist* H. S. Wolfe, Ph. D., Horticulturist in Charge
R. V. n Ph.D. Chemist W. M. Fifield, M.S., Asst. Horticulturist
R. W. Runrecht, Ph.D., Chemist Geoe. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Associate Plant
R. M. Barnette, Ph.D., Chemist Pathologist
C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate
R. B. French, Ph.D., Associate W. CENTRAL FLA. STA., BROOKSVILLE
H. W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant
W. F. Ward, M.S.A., Asst. An. Husbandman
C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agricultural Economist**
Bruce McKinley, A.B., B.S.A., Associate FIELD STATIONS
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associate
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Assistant Leesburg
ECONOMICS, HOME M. N. Walker, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
Ouida Davis Abbott, Ph. D., Specialist** W. B. Shippy, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
C. F. Ahmann, Ph.D., Physiologist K. W. Loucks, M. S., Asst. Plant Pathologist
J. W. Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Entomologist
ENTOMOLOGY C. C. Goff, M.S., Assistant Entomologist
J., R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist** Plant City
A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Associate
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
G. H. Blackmon. M.S.A., Horticulturist and A. S. Rhoads, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
Acting Head of Department Hastings
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Associate
. a Ph.D., Asc Horticulturist A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist
R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Specialist, Fumigation Monticello
R. D Dickey. B.S.A., Assistant Horticulturist Sam O. Hill, B.S., Asst. Entomologist*
David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist
W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist**
George F. Weber, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist Sanford
R. K. Vorhees, M.S., Assistant E. R. Purvis, Ph.D., Assistant Chemist,
Erdman West, M. S., Mycologist Celery Investigations
Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Assistant Botanist
Stacy O. Hawkins, M.A., Assistant Plant Lakeland
Pathologist E. S. Ellison, Ph.D., Meteorologist*
SPECTROGRAPHIC LABORATORY B. H. Moore, A.B., Asst. Meteorologist*
L. W. Gaddum, Ph.D., Biochemist In cooperation with U.S.D.A.
L. H. Rogers, M.A., Spectroscopic Analyst ** Head of Department.


Page Page
H history ........ ....... . 3 Life history ......... .. ..... . ............ 8
Importance ..... .. 5 Host plants ................. ....................... 11
D description ....... ... ...... 7 Control ... .... ..... ............. ... 11

The pepper weevil is apparently of Mexican origin and was first
described in 1894 by Cano from Guanajuato, Mexico. It was first
reported in the United States by Walker (3)1 in 1904, when it
was found in pepper collected at Boerne, Texas. In 1923 the
weevil was reported for the first time from southern California.
There, as in Florida, the growers stated that similar damage
had been noticed in previous years but it had not been severe
enough to be investigated.
In some years the damage has been very great in certain
sections. Pratt (2) states: "At San Antonio, Texas, many
truckers had given up growing of peppers on account of their
experience the year previous, and on one patch at Collins Gar-
dens fully 80 percent of the pods were attacked."
Elmore et al. (1) state: "In 1909 M. M. High reported the loss
of an entire crop in the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas from
the ravages of this insect, but he failed to find the weevil again
until 1913, when he observed a few specimens." They also state
that it has caused 50 percent loss to California growers during
some years; that in Texas heavy losses have been experienced
every few years since 1904; and in southern New Mexico there
have been serious losses periodically for several years.

During the month of April, 1935, an insect attacking peppers
was sent to the Experiment Station for identification. This insect
was at once recognized as the pepper weevil, Anthonomus
eugenii, which had never before been reported from this state. A
few growers in Manatee County claimed that they had noticed
similar damage during preceding years. It is quite probable that
it had been present for some time, as it was spread over an area
of several square miles. However, this was the first time that the
damage was general and severe enough to be reported. At this
time most of the fields examined in Manatee County were found

1Italic figures in parentheses refer to "Literature Cited" in the back
of this bulletin.

4 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

to contain weevils and in certain ones the damage was so severe
that no fruit was harvested from the fields (4).
Due to excellent cooperation among growers, all but two
commercial fields in the infested area were destroyed during the
early part of July. Weevils remained in these two fields in fair
numbers during July. On August 1 19 adult weevils were
collected in an hour and 10 minutes from one of these fields,
indicating a fairly heavy infestation.
A field of eggplants was examined on July 17 for weevils and
by shaking the plants over a white cloth an average of one weevil
from three plants was obtained. By August 1 only a few leaves
and blossoms were left on these eggplants and at this time no
weevils could be found. From these observations it is concluded
that eggplant is an unimportant host in carrying the weevils
through the summer season.
On August 21 the two pepper fields which had not been disked
under were visited. In one of these the weeds had entirely choked
out the pepper plants, no live plants being found by careful
search. The other field was being mowed and one weevil was
found during a few minutes spent in examining the remaining
Seedbeds were planted at this time and a large number were
examined without finding weevils. A severe storm destroyed a
number of these on September 3. They were replanted and
weekly examinations for the weevil were made of the beds and
of the plants after they were placed in the field. The examina-
tions were continued throughout the winter and spring. How-
ever, it was not until May 4, 1936, that the weevil was again
found. On this date an infestation was found in a small area in
a two-acre field of hot peppers. As many as 15 or 20 pods were
found infested on some plants. The plants in this field had been
set out during October 1935 or later. However, some of these
had been obtained from another grower whose plants had been
carried through the cleanup campaign the year before. There
were only a few plants among some nursery stock and this place
had been overlooked. It was the only known planting to be
carried through the cleanup and it was the only planting where
a heavy infestation was found during the spring of 1936. On
May 8 some of these plants were found to have 75 or more
infested pods on a single plant.
During the next few days a careful survey was made of prac-
tically all the pepper fields in the county. Two infestations were
found on bell peppers in two widely separated fields. In one of

The Pepper Weevil 5

these fields a half dozen infested pods on two plants were all
that could be found. The owner immediately destroyed all the
plants in this field. In the other field several plants were found
to have a few infested pods. Around the first of June a third
commercial field at still another point in the area was found
highly infested and this field was destroyed in a few days.
By the first part of July the one remaining infested commer-
cial field was heavily infested with weevils. Although a few
pods contained no weevils, others contained a number of larvae
or pupae. In examining a few pods, three were found with six
immature individuals in each and a fourth one contained three
pupae, two adults in cells, and two emerged from cells making a
total of seven weevils in a single pod. All of these pods were
fairly large and were still on the plants.
In August this field was flooded during a period of heavy rain
and the weevil population was considerably reduced. The field
was again visited early in October after a period of heavy rain-
fall, and although a few plants remained alive, and had an
occasional bud or pod, no weevils could be found.
The small planting of hot peppers which was carried through
the original cleanup continued as a breeding place for the weevils
during the fall and winter of 1936. Although the number of
plants was small, there being only a dozen or two, this was
sufficient to infest nearby fields. On November 10 in a field
one-tenth of a mile from the hot pepper field several infested
pods were found while in two other fields about half a mile away
a very few infested ones were found. On December 15 the in-
festations in these fields had increased 10 fold and one infested
S fruit was found in a field a mile and a quarter from the hot
The early winter was mild and by January 20, 1937, the nearby
fields were so heavily infested that part of them had been de-
stroyed. The more distant field had a heavy infestation so that
it was destroyed shortly after this date.
On April 7 one field, still undestroyed, had such a heavy in-
festation that only a very few buds reached the flowering stage.
At this time a very few infested pods were found in a field in
Sarasota County, these being the first found outside of Manatee
Figure 2 shows a hythergraph of mean monthly temperatures
and rainfall for Bradenton, Florida, compared with a composite

6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station



L 76






of Br0denton Florida and of a composite of four Califoinia stations in

the w'evilinfested areal Numbers in the graph fiom one to 12 refer

Note that our months from October to May approach most closely those


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Fig. 2.-Hythergraph of the average monthly rainfall and temperature
of Bradenton, Florida, and of a composite of four California stations in
the weevil-infested area. Numbers in the graph from one to 12 refer
to the month of the year and the position of each accompanying dot gives
the average temperature and rainfall (the average of many years) for
that month.
Note that our months from October to May approach most closely those
from April to October in California, the season during which they have
trouble with the weevil.

The Pepper Weevil 7

for four stations in the weevil-infested area of southern Cali-
fornia. Greatest damage is experienced in California following
mild winters, more closely approximating the Florida condition.
Rainfall is much heavier in Florida. However, the most critical
period for the peppers in Florida is during the winter and early
spring when the rainfall is lightest. Since the California crop
is much later than that of Florida, the conditions during the two
crop periods are not so very different, as can be noted from Fig 2.
From observations to date it would appear that unless a careful
and complete cleanup of fields is made after the crop is har-
vested, the weevil will prove to be a major pest and under favor-
able conditions the entire crop may be destroyed. No peppers
should be allowed to grow during the summer.

The pepper weevil resembles the cotton boll weevil in general
appearance. The boll weevil does not breed in pepper plants
nor does the pepper weevil breed in cotton: the boll weevil is
nearly twice as long as the pepper weevil; and if the two be
closely examined with a hand lens it will be found that the front
legs of the boll weevil bear two stout spines while the front legs
of the pepper weevil have but one. The adult pepper weevil
averages about 1/8 inch in length, varying from about 1/16 to

Fig. 3.-A, dorsal view of the pepper weevil;
B, side view of pepper weevil's front leg,
A showing the single spine on the trochanter.

8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

5/32 inch. It is shining, brownish black in color. Except for
the snout, the body is covered with gray or yellowish scale-like
hairs; these are thicker on the under side of the body, giving
it a white appearance. The snout bears near its center the
antennae and at its end the mouthparts.
When first laid, the egg is a pearly white, but later turns yel-
low. It is oblong-oval in shape, and averages a little less than
1/32 of an inch in length. The egg is usually placed in a hole
cut by the female into the pepper bud or in the base of the young
pepper pod.
The mature larva is only slightly less than 1/4 inch long, cylin-
drical and curved in shape. It is legless, resembling a white
grub somewhat, except in size. The head is a light yellowish
brown with dark brown mouthparts, and the body is white or
grayish white. The body is divided into 12 segments, each
bearing several short hairs which are not visible to the un-
aided eye.
The pupa or resting stage, like the larval stage, is passed in-
side the pepper. It varies from about 1/8 to 5/32 inch in length
and is uniformly white in color when first formed. The beak,
antennae and legs are closely folded against the under side of
the body. The wings are folded against the sides of the body
and part of the under side. In a ventral view the tips of the
second pair of wings may be seen projecting from under the
first pair. The dorsal side of the head, prothorax and abdomen
bear a number of short, inconspicuous bristles.

During the period of study oviposition took place about four
days after emergence. Eggs were deposited either in buds be-
fore the flowers had opened or in the fruit. Occasionally eggs
were deposited in the pedicel of the fruit, but this was not
observed often.
The method of oviposition is as follows: The weevil usually
spends a short time in selecting a place to deposit her eggs. She
then starts drilling a hole and continues until the snout is in-
serted to the eyes. The length of time taken for this varies

The Pepper Weevil 9

greatly. In a young, tender pepper this took about two to four
S minutes. In older, tougher fruit as much as 14 minutes was
spent in this process. As soon as the hole is finished, normally,
the female turns, inserts the ovipositor and in from one to two
minutes deposits an egg. At times a female seems unable to
find the hole and the egg is deposited on the surface of the fruit.
On one occasion a female inserted her ovipositor in the hole and
remained in that position for 11 minutes. She then withdrew
her ovipositor and immediately deposited an egg on the surface
of the fruit. She again inserted her ovipositor in the hole and
remained thus for about five minutes. The ovipositor was with-
drawn and a second egg which she ate was deposited on the
surface. Unfertilized females deposited their eggs on the sur-
face even though they drilled a hole in the fruit. They usually
made normal ovipositions after they had been mated.
When the egg has been deposited, the female withdraws her
ovipositor and secretes a clear, brownish fluid which turns dark
on drying and seals the hole. Some time may then be spent in
cleaning the ovipositor by rubbing it on the surface of the pepper
or scraping it with her hind legs.
Females were kept in petri dishes in the insectary and a
small pepper was placed in the dish each day. After being left
one day these peppers were taken out and examined for the
number of eggs. The average oviposition period for nine females
was found to be 30 days and the average number of eggs laid
198. In studies carried on in California (1) the average length
of the oviposition period was found to be 72 days and the aver-
age number of eggs deposited 341. Further confirmation of the
work here in Florida is needed before the results can be fully
accepted. Possibly the petri dish formed an unfavorable cage.
Moisture was not observed to collect on the dish but the humidity
was probably higher than it would have been in a screened cage.
In the California experiments the average number of eggs
laid per day was 4.7 and it was stated that occasionally a female
deposited 20 or more eggs in 48 hours. The average number
of eggs per day here in Florida was 6.6 and as many as 41 eggs
were laid in 48 hours, and 20 eggs in that length of time was
quite common. This larger number of eggs in the same unit
of time would lead one to think that the period of oviposition
might be shorter than in California.
For determining time of oviposition the day was divided into
three periods: 4 a. m. to 12 noon, 12 noon to 8 p. m. and 8 p. m.

10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

to 4 a. m. Eggs were deposited in all three periods, the smallest
number being laid in the 8 p. m. to 4 a. m. period.
When the weevils were placed in a refrigerator at a tempera-
ture of 420 F. no eggs were deposited.
During the month of June the incubation period was between
2.5 and three days. In cooler weather this period would be
longer. Workers in California (1) found that from three to
five days were required for incubation with an average of 4.3
days. Freshly laid eggs kept at a temperature of about 42 F.
had not hatched after the end of 26 days.
Just after hatching the larva measures around a millimeter
in length. It usually bores its way into the seed mass in the
center of the pod. At an early period it may often be found
in a cavity which it has.hollowed out in a single seed. Occa-
sionally one may be found in the carpellary partition. The larval
period was from six to nine days with the larvae having three
instars. In the last stage a definite cell is formed by the larva
in which it pupates. This cell, made from frass, is dark in color
and brittle.
During the time it is active the larva repairs this cell if it is
broken open.
The length of the pupal stage during the time of study was
four days.
After the adult form has been reached it may take some time
for emergence from the pepper. One weevil was observed at
8 o'clock in the morning trying to cut through a pod which was
getting dry and tough and it had not yet cut its way through
by 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The following morning it had
emerged, but at least something more than nine hours had been
spent in doing this.
Five of a group of six weevils which emerged about May 20
were alive August 20 when this work was discontinued. During
this period the weevils were fed on pepper pods. In California
the average length of life was about 79 days and one individual
lived 316 days.
The following table shows the length of life without food and
without food and water during the month of July, newly emerged
adults being used:

The Pepper Weevil 11

Without food and water Without food
Number of Number of Number of Number of
weevils days lived weevils days lived
2 4 1 4
1 5 1 6
2 7
1 8
1 9
4.3 6.8

The weevil has not been found on wild plants in Florida. In
California (1) it was found breeding on wild nightshade. A
careful examination of the fruit of the nightshade (Solarnum
gracile) near the fields in the Bradenton area failed to show
any infested berries and no adult weevils were taken from such
plants by sweeping with an insect net. A large number of buds
of eggplants on which the adults were feeding were examined
but only two were found infested. Females which were produc-
ing eggs were placed in cages with fruit and buds of the wild
nightshade and buds of eggplant. They remained feeding on
these for several days but deposited no eggs. When returned
to pepper they resumed egg laying.
The appearance of the weevil in three widely separated fields
the spring after the cleanup would indicate that they had car-
ried over on a wild host or on eggplants or that a few isolated
pepper plants may have been missed. However, the host plants
must have been very few or very unfavorable for these fields
were only lightly infested and no weevils were found in other
fields of the region.
Since there were so few infestations during the period of
study and since none were found near the experimental lab-
oratory, it was not considered advisable to infest the plants
there for experimental work. The field in which the weevils
were found was yielding a large quantity of hot peppers and
the owner was quite anxious to save the crop, therefore co-
operative work with him was carried on. On the day that they
were found, May 4, 1936, the infested area was carefully in-
spected and all drops picked up. This was continued twice a
week after this date. On May 6 the infested area and a margin
beyond it were dusted with undiluted calcium arsenate. This
same area was given two more dustings with this material and
then dusted thereafter with a mixture of 50% calcium arsenate

12 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

and 50% lime. The interval of dusting depended somewhat on
the amount of rain, the plants being dusted within a four-day
period after each rain. Excellent control was obtained and it
was difficult to find infested pods during the latter part of June.
During the latter part of July a heavy wind and rain caused
a large number of peppers to drop. Hereafter, fallen peppers
were not picked up and although the dusting was continued the
infestation increased. By the latter part of August a heavy
infestation of the weevil occurred.
These results showed that excellent control was obtained by
a combination of picking up the fallen fruits and by dusting,
but that dusting alone was not sufficient to keep down the in-
festation. This method will probably not prove so effective with
bell peppers. Most of the small hot peppers drop when they
are infested so that emergence from the pods on the plants is
quite low. However, if bell peppers are infested after the fruit
is partially grown the pods very often do not drop from the
plant so that a large number of weevils emerge from these pods.
Rains also make necessary a number of applications of the dust,
thus making this means of control expensive.
From these studies it is shown that an effective and cheap
control can be obtained by a thorough cleanup of the fields as
soon as the peppers have been harvested. To be effective all
fields in a community must be destroyed and all plants in the
field must be destroyed. In one field observed, all but one row
of peppers along one side had been disked. This remaining row
served as a breeding place for hundreds of weevils. Since the
life cycle is short and the number of eggs laid is large, a few
weevils can build up an infestation in a short period. It is
therefore essential that the cleanup be complete.
Without this, it would seem that peppers cannot be profitably
grown in parts of Florida where the pepper weevil has become
1. ELMORE, J. C., A. C. DAVIS, and ROY E. CAMPBELL. The pepper weevil.
U. S. Dept. of Agr. Tech. Bull. 447: 1-28. 1934.
2. PRATT, F. C. Papers on the cotton boll weevil and related and asso-
ciated insects. V. Notes on the pepper weevil (Anthonomus aeneo-
tinctus Champ.). U. S. Dept. of Agr. Bur. Ent. Bull. 63: 55-58. 1907.
3. WALKER, C. M. Miscellaneous results of the work of the bureau of
entomology. VIII. The pepper weevil (Anthonomus aeneotinctus
Champ.). U. S. Dept. of Agr. Bur. Ent. Bull. 54: 43-48. 1905.
4. WATSON, J. R. The pepper weevil in Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta.
Press Bull. 479. 1935.

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