A single adult pepper weevil was found on a pheromone trap at a Hammonton area farm on Friday, July 8th. This is a reminder to all pepper growers to be vigilant for pepper weevil. Pepper weevil is an occasional pest in New Jersey that has caused severe yield reduction in peppers. In 2005, one farm suffered severe loss and since 2007 at least one farm per summer has been infested in southern New Jersey.
Pepper weevil is not a migratory pest nor can it over-winter in New Jersey. The weevil is incapable of diapausing (non-feeding, quiescent period) so it needs a constant food supply. The weevils have to be transported into the state from other locations. It is still not clear how these infestations occur so frequently in the Hammonton area.
The weevils can be monitored using pheromone traps or scouted for by looking for aborted blossoms and small fruit. Adult females lay one or more eggs in the flowers or developing fruit which the plant aborts. These flowers and fruit can be cut open to determine whether weevil grubs are inside. Egg scars are visible on developing fruit as small dimples with a dark center.
The earlier in the growing season the weevils are found, the greater the potential loss will be and should be aggressively managed. Late season infestations may cause little marketable yield loss and there may be less need for insecticide applications.
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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.