Pepper weevil is a huge issue for pepper growers, but researchers like Philip Stansly, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida (UF), are working to find management techniques.
Stansly says pepper weevil is the main pest for pepper growers in Florida.
Insecticides, shortened crop cycles and UV, metalized, reflective mulches are three forms of pest management techniques being tested for controlling pepper pests.
Stansly says reflective mulch had an effect on pepper pests including thrips, broad mites and pepper weevil. Broad mites are affected because they attach to flying insects that are deterred by the mulch.
“With the pepper weevil, I think we have some good results. They’re not startling or anything, but I think it’s one more tool in the toolbox,” Stansly says. “It can reduce the pepper weevil infestation early in the crop, which is critical.”
Stansly says different bed widths are also being researched with engineer Sanjay Shukla to see what effects they may have on yield and repellence of pests.
Insecticides are another tool for growers to use. Researchers are continuously working toward finding the best types of insecticides and techniques to manage pests, says Stansly.
However, pepper weevil is notoriously difficult to control with insecticides because only the adults are exposed. An adult is hard bodied and feeds through a small hole made by the mandibles on its long snout. Thus, it’s hard to get an adult to absorb or ingest a lethal dose of insecticide. For this reason, growers have to rely on cultural controls, such as reflective mulch, and especially avoidance by early plow down, incorporation of crop residues and shortened crop cycles.
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