How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


Pepper Weevil

Scientific name: Anthonomus eugenii

(Reviewed 8/07, updated 11/12)

In this Guideline:


The pepper weevil is a common pest in southern California where it can migrate in from areas with warm winters or survive year-round in years when winters are mild. The adult pepper weevil is a small beetle, about 1/8 inch (3 mm) long, with a dark body that has a brassy luster to it. Larvae are off-white grubs with a brown head and are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) when mature.

Adult females lay eggs in holes they create in pepper buds or in the base of young pepper pods. Larvae develop and feed inside on the seed core or tissue of the pod wall. The pepper weevil has three larval instars and larval development requires 2 to 3 weeks. Pupation occurs within the pepper pod and requires 3-6 days. There are multiple generations a year. Peppers are the primary host, but feeding also occurs on nightshades, especially silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium.


Adult weevils feed on fruit and leaf buds. Larvae feed inside the pods and cause young fruit to drop prematurely, reducing yields. Larger fruit often do not drop when infested, resulting in crop contamination.


Pepper weevils can be managed with field sanitation and crop rotation, which is critical in managing this pest. Monitor with pheromone-baited sticky traps to determine the need to treat.

Biological Control

Parasitic wasps have been observed on the weevil larvae, but their impact in controlling this pest appears to be minimal.

Cultural Control
  • Inspect pepper transplants to make sure they aren't infested, and remove nightshade plants from the pepper field and its margins.
  • During fruit development and at harvest, remove culled or dropped fruit from the field.
  • Immediately following harvest, remove and destroy fruit from the field and the surrounding areas. Shred and disc pepper plant residue.
  • If pepper weevil is a problem, rotate to another crop next season. Pepper weevils only develop on solanaceous plants, so avoid rotating to crops like tomato and eggplant, and control solanaceaous weeds.
Organically Acceptable Methods

Cultural controls and sprays of pyrethrin are acceptable for use on organically certified produce.

Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

As recommended by University of Florida research, estimate adult pepper weevil numbers with pheromone-baited yellow sticky traps and by visual examination. Pheromone-baited yellow sticky traps may also be useful in early detection.

Prior to bloom, place traps in the field to detect first adult emergence, and on the perimeter of the field to detect migration into the field. Mount traps on poles that can be adjusted during crop growth to ensure that the bottom of the traps are just at or slightly below the tops of the plants. Check traps twice a week in the morning or more frequently if adults are known to be present. Apply treatments when the first adult is captured.

Alternatively, the terminal buds can also be used to determine the treatment threshold. Check two terminal vegetative buds per plant for adults and treat when one or more adults are found per 400 buds.

Common name Amount per acre** R.E.I.+ P.H.I.+
(trade name)   (hours) (days)

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
The following materials are listed in order of usefulness in an IPM program. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to impact on natural enemies and pollinators and environmental impact. Not all registered pesticides are listed. Always read the label of the product being used.
  (Asana XL) 5.8-9.6 fl oz 12 7
  COMMENTS: Do not exceed 0.35 lb a.i./acre per season. Can cause leafminer outbreaks to occur by reducing natural enemies such as parasitic wasps. If leafminers are present in the pepper crop, use of this product should be limited to late in the season to minimize negative impacts on biological control.
  (Sevin 4F or XLR Plus) 0.5-1 qt 12 3
  COMMENTS: Thorough coverage is important. Do not use when psyllids are present.
  (Thionex 3EC) 0.66-1.33 qt 4 days 4
  (Thionex 50WP) 1 lb 9 days 9
  COMMENTS: Do not make more than 2 applications per year. Only use this product late in season if leafminers are present; it is destructive of their parasites. It will be unlawful to use these products after July 31, 2015 on peppers.
  (Ambush 25W) 6.4-12.8 oz 12 3
  COMMENTS: For use on bell peppers only. Do not apply more than 1.6 lb a.i./acre per season. If leafminers are present in the pepper crop, use of this product should be limited to late in the season to minimize negative impacts on biological control.
  . . . or . . .
  (Pounce 25WP) 6.4-12.8 oz 12 3
  COMMENTS: For use on bell peppers only. Do not apply more than 0.8 lb a.i./acre per season. Only use this product late in season if leafminers are present; it is destructive of their parasites.
  Ambush 25W and Pounce 25WP have different maximum rates per season.
  (PyGanic EC) 16 oz 12 0
  COMMENTS: Begin applications when insects first appear; do not wait until the plants are heavily infested. Apply in sufficient water for thorough coverage of the plants. Apply at intervals of 7 days or less. Repeat as necessary to maintain control.
** See label for dilution rates.
+ Restricted entry interval (R.E.I.) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (P.H.I.) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
* Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
# Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action Group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee). For additional information, see their Web site at



[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Peppers
UC ANR Publication 3460

Insects and Mites

E. T. Natwick, UC Cooperative Extension, Imperial County
J. T. Trumble, Entomology, UC Riverside
Jose Aguiar, UC Cooperative Extension, Riverside County
Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
W. J. Bentley, UC IPM Program, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
R. L. Coviello, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County
C. G. Summers, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
W. E. Chaney, UC Cooperative Extension, Monterey County
C. F. Fouche, UC Cooperative Extension, San Joaquin County

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