Pepper weevil pathways

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2013: $14,914.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Joseph Ingerson-Mahar
Rutgers University

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: peppers


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer
  • Pest Management: chemical control, cultural control, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention, traps
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    This project requests continuation from work last year in which we seek to identify the routes of entry of a sub-tropical pest, Anthonomus eugenii Cano, pepper weevil, into southern New Jersey pepper crops (under ONE12-161). This serious pest arrived again in farm fields in 2012 causing late season infestations and was present in distant farms which had not reported it in recent years. This occurrence expanded the number of farms (from 4 to 8) and associated areas monitored (65). Areas monitored included fields, housing, loading docks, scout trucks, a dumpster, a community garden and a produce hauler. When the weevil arrived all affected farms commenced costly control by spraying. That action kept the weevil at bay but didn’t eliminate it; however, crop loss was avoided. During 2012 we progressed substantially in knowledge of the mechanisms by which the pest spreads. However, we do not yet know with certainty the point of introduction. We need to continue to work to identify the probable non-farm source(s). Our focus in 2012 was on farms and farm equipment. Though farms and equipment will continue to be monitored at a reduced level, it is apparent that non-farm entities need to be included also. These are local re-packers, processors, produce waste handlers and field itinerants (field workers, health workers, field scouts). We intend to prevent or minimize pepper weevil arrival, mitigate the need for insecticidal control and thus improve farmer profitability and sustainability. We will develop control protocols for local and Northeast farmers. Results will be disseminated by presentations to farmers and ag industry people at twilight meetings and other state meetings.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    An important assumption is made in this test: In 2013 pepper weevils will return to the farm areas infested in 2012.
    Owners of three of the farms that had some level of pepper weevil detected in 2011 and 2012 are participating in this effort. A fourth pepper grower, with no detected pepper weevil in 2012 will serve as a control, as a matter of test design.

    Visual detection for the weevil via lure on tanglefoot-coated cards is the primary evaluation tool.Baited cards are qualitative tools that may relate to the number of flying pests. Though captures will be recorded and reported, a strict numerical tool that specifies a certain infestation level is not available. Baited cards do not reliably relate to field concentrations of the pest, but do serve as a positive indicator of arrival. Pheromone-baited cards will be placed in areas of produce handling external to the farms. Though tracking will continue on the farms, the number of sites will be reduced. There were about 65 farm sites monitored in 2012.Primary targeted areas for 2013 are those which handle peppers or the discards external to the farm.

    After obtaining participation and cooperation for card placement, pheromone-baited cards will be anchored in the pepper fields or commercial areas as the primary monitoring tools. A finding of pepper weevil in a field will cause a recommendation to commence sprays. A finding in a commercial area will be documented and reported to the owner. To address the issue of potential spread via field scouts, cards will be mounted inside the driver area of the vehicles driven among farms by scouts (both Rutgers and contractor). We will request the cooperation of other farm consultants do do the same.
    Data in this test are observational rather than strongly quantitative as related to level of infestation. No study found has, with certainty, tied card counts to field populations. But a generally recognized action level of one weevil per 400 plants does indicate significance in the planting, and thus importance as an indicator tool for the presence of pepper weevil. Any finding of the weevil in a non-farm enterprise is cause for concern as a route of entry or spread.

    The target audience for this work is the farmers who have been seriously affected by the presence, and the threat of invasion, by this pest. Their schedules and work plans are being disrupted in unanticipated emergent needs to rescue their crop. We will add to the information about the spread of pepper weevil and recommend avoidance protocols that will help pepper farmers. A second target is IPM agents in other states, particularly Virginia.

    Presentation to farmers and ag industry people at twilight meetings and other state meetings.
    Notices via Rutgers Plant and Pest Advisory Alerts
    Development of an ID and management protocol and tool
    Copy of final report to University of Florida, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech entomologists.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.