There are about 40,000 different species of weevils and beetles throughout the world. Weevils may possibly make up one the world's largest family of animals.
What in the world is a weevil? Farmers may refer to them as evil beetles because they are known to destroy crops. In fact, a weevil is a tiny pest that can cause much damage to grains you may have stored in pantries or cupboards like cereal and rice. There's nothing like opening a box of Cheerios only to find little bugs crawling around inside.
The weevil is so small that it rarely grows longer than a half-inch in length. Many species have a long snout for a mouth, and the snout can even be longer than the rest of its body. Weevils that feed on seeds, though, do not have snouts because the bugs don't need them to bore through food. A weevil's snout may be curved and can contain tiny jaws. The shape of the snout helps the weevil to dig into plants or seeds. No need to worry about the jaws, though. They are harmless to humans and are only used to nibble through food. The weevil also has antennae that fold up near its snout.
Weevils lay their eggs most any place they find suitable, including plants and trees. And we're not talking one or two little weevils. The average amount of eggs weevils lay is about 100. Fortunately, though, not all of the eggs survive as they grow into larvae due to competition of limited amounts of food. Weevil larvae resemble tiny grubs. They are about 0.4 inches long and are usually white. The larvae do not have legs, causing them to squirm around for food.
After storing up enough food the larvae form little nests called chip cocoons. These are just like butterfly cocoons. The larvae rest in their cocoons for at least a month and emerge as adult weevils. It's amazing how many stages a tiny insect goes through in such a short amount of time.
If you notice weevils indoors, they most likely have invaded the grains in your home. Look for weevils in food, popcorn, bean bags and even Native American corn you may have used as a decoration for Thanksgiving. Who'd have thought holiday decorations are susceptible to pest damage?
The most common pantry pest weevils are the rice weevil and the granary weevil. These insects are often brought into a home in packaged foods. They are also capable of entering from outside sources.
Weevils can do damage to food, but there are ways of saving your groceries. For example, you can boil grains like rice for at least 15 minutes. Or, you can store the grains in your freezer for three days. These techniques will help to kill off the weevils. However, the very thought of bugs crawling around in my food is enough for me to throw it out.
So, thorough inspection is required of all grains, cereals and spices, whether the packages have been opened or not. You are looking for signs of damage to the grains or for the presence of the insect, itself. If you discover either, out goes the product. Bad infestations have the nasty habit of emptying a cupboard. Following the purge you must carefully vacuum all cracks and crevices where the foods were stored. Once everything is cleaned you may apply a light treatment of pesticides along the cracks and crevices of the cupboard shelves. I also recommend purchasing some tented glue traps to continue monitoring for new outbreaks. I strongly suggest being very careful with your initial inspection or you may find yourself repeating the process.
Grains are not the only things that weevils can infest. They can also be found in fruits, seeds and roots of plants. There is almost no limit to the types of plants weevils will invade. They can destroy plums, cotton, cherries, peaches, alfalfa, apples, grains and acorns. Adult weevils lay their eggs in these items. Their larvae emerge and feast on the host plants. This can cause a lot of damage to plants and flowers.
If you notice damage to your flower or vegetable garden and know that there are no rabbits nearby, weevils may be the culprits. You'll probably have to use a magnifying glass to identify them.
In order to eliminate weevils from your garden you may have to burn the infested plants. This will help salvage the remaining healthy plants before any larvae can get to them. Another option is to spray insecticide on the plants. Be sure to read the labels on any insecticides you use, as some are not suitable for use on vegetables meant for consumption.