Pepper weevil pathways

2013 Annual Report for ONE13-185

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

Pepper weevil pathways


This project is a complement to one funded in 2012 (ONE12-161) that sought to discover the route of entry of pepper weevil into New Jersey.  In the 2012 work we confirmed that the weevil’s entry point is not from farm use of transplants as is commonly described in agricultural guidance documents.  We uncovered many circumstances which encouraged the weevil’s spread once found in the field, but the source remained elusive.  The intent for this 2013 project  (ONE13-185) was to change focus from monitoring farm practices to evaluating the potential impact of the supply and distribution system.  We monitored for pepper weevil at or near five processing/repacking facilities.  Additionally, 25 farms, 2 greenhouses, a waste hauler, a crate supplier, a research station, a local gathering point for field workers, and a municipal waste facility were also monitored.  Seven counties were included (Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem).  Weevils were captured in all areas evaluated except at the crate supplier and one remote farm in Cape May County.  A pattern emerged that reveals the arrival of weevils in April and May to the processing facilities or to nearby traps.  All other areas monitored were nearly devoid of captures in this time frame.  However, weevils began to appear in pepper fields by late May  and continued to be detected routinely throughout the season.  We monitored the spread and developed a greater understanding of the habit of the insect here. 

Farmers were notified of the location and density of weevils throughout the season via the weekly Rutgers Vegetable Plant and Pest Advisory.  Two vegetable alerts were issued on May 21 and June 24.  An overview of results to date was presented at the Mid-Atlantic Vegetable and Small Fruits Workers Conference (November 6), at a Rutgers University Department of Entomology Seminar (November 8), and at a Rutgers Vegetable Working Group meeting on November 21.

We are in the process of soliciting input from stakeholders to enable estimation of the most economically feasible means to control the pest.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The primary objective was to determine the route of entry of pepper weevil onto farm fields in New Jersey.

Visual detection for the weevil via lure on tanglefoot-coated cards remained the primary evaluation tool.  These cards are baited with a dual pheromone system.

Primary targeted areas for 2013 were those which handle peppers or the discards external to the farm.

Tracking did continue on the farms.

 A finding of a pepper weevil in a field caused a recommendation to commence insecticide application.  A generally-recognized action level of one weevil per 400 plants indicates significance in the planting.

All findings in non-farm  areas were documented. Any finding of the weevil in a non-farm enterprise is cause for concern as a route of entry or spread.


Jan-Mar 2013:             Seek cooperation of those off-farm enterprises as well as pepper farmers where monitoring is deemed necessary. Complete.  Most potential participants willingly engaged in the study.  Two processors preferred non-participation and so traps were located outside the facility.  One farm refused trap placement for fear that the trap would draw weevils to his fields.

April 2013:       Order materials and mount cards in chosen locations. Complete. 

May 2013:       Observe and record indications from all cards on a minimum weekly basis. Change pheromone lures in 4-6 week intervals. Complete.  In April and May cards at or near all five processing/repacking facilities trapped weevils. This outcome was unexpected.  We expected the one facility monitored in 2012 to exhibit weevil presence based on prior year results, and receipt of peppers from Florida and Mexico, but did not expect so general an arrival indication.

June 2013:      Observe and record indications from all cards on a minimum weekly basis.  Complete. Several farmers requested that they be included in monitoring, and so we accommodated their requests.  In June weevils began to appear at a relatively low level into fields near a processor, but were not widespread.  We included field scouting as a monitoring tool.

July 2013:        Change pheromone lures on a 4 to 6 week basis. Change cards as needed. Continue data collection.  Complete.  Through July and until mid-August, some fields became infested.

Aug-Nov 2013:            Continue card maintenance and monitoring.  Complete. By mid-August and through to the end of the season, weevil arrival on farms became widespread.  As processors received local peppers their indications of weevil climbed.  As fields were disked at season’s end, weevils were epidemic, and the numbers trapped surprising.  In 2012 we trapped approximately 1000 weevils.  In this season, we trapped about 10,000.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We believe that we now know much of the arrival and spread behavior of pepper weevil into southern New Jersey.  The common pattern of infestations over the past several years is  somewhat elucidated.  We believe that other areas with a similar set of neighboring businesses have or can develop a similar situation. The largest problem in addressing the source is that the pepper weevil is not a regulated pest at this time because it is endemic to Florida and Mexico, and other southern areas, which represent the off season supply of peppers to northern points. The life cycle of the insect, coupled with field distance from the source, impacts its density in the field. A remote field may not suffer economic damage. However, there are other potential sources for insect introduction in addition to those monitored this year i.e. terminal markets and auctions, and even home gardeners.  We are in process of estimating ability to predict potential damage utilizing available tools (training in ID via lured cards and scouting).  We know, from observing behavior, that the weevils can be in the fruit with no indication of presence on the cards. Two information sessions are planned for stakeholders early on in 2014 to seek a consensus opinion on methods of control.  We wish to solicit feedback from farmers on their perceived impact from the pest, and their willingness to institute on farm monitoring (with training provided).  We also desire that processors will monitor their incoming peppers, and take action to address the contamination to their suppliers. 


Bernadette Eichinger

[email protected]
Field Applications Specialist
Rutgers NJAES
6 Irongate Drive
Voorhees, NJ 08043
Office Phone: 8567510810
Bob Muth

[email protected]
Muth Family Farm
51 E. Woodland Ave.
Pitman, NJ 08071
Office Phone: 8565820363
George Ruggero

[email protected]
Past Farmer/Owner
Homestead Farms
7691 weymouth Road
Hammonton, NJ 08037
Office Phone: 6095617404
August Wuillermin

[email protected]
Ed Wuillermin & Sons
894 Ninth St.
Hammonton, NJ 08037
Office Phone: 6095177413