By Kat Yares, Garden Guides Contributor
Curculio is a distinctive name given to a group of weevils of the Curculionidae, or snout beetle, family. Two main types of curculio can be present in a garden or orchard.
The plum curculio affects fruit trees in the early spring at the time when apples, peaches, plums and other fruits are blossoming. After feeding on the blossoms for several weeks, the plum curculio lays its eggs inside the newly formed fruit.
The nut curculio attacks nut trees and, like its plum counterpart, lays its eggs inside the growing nuts.
Prevention and Control
The small size, 1/4 inch, of an adult curculio makes the beetle almost impossible to detect with the naked eye. The best form of prevention is to clean up all debris around the affected areas immediately, as these areas are where curculio beetles over winter. All fallen leaves and fruits and nuts should be burned or otherwise destroyed during the winter season.
Fruit trees; apple, apricot, cherry, plum, peach, plumcots
Oaks, Walnuts and Pecans
The curculio larvae cause deformation or prematurely falling fruits and nuts before pupating in the ground surrounding the tree.
Ladybugs and lacewings can help but will not control an infestation of curculio beetles.
The use of organophosphate insecticide phosmet has been used in the past to help with the control of the curculio beetle, but its use is now frowned upon, as it is toxic to an already shrinking honeybee population.
Other Methods of Control
The plum curculio beetle will freeze in place if startled. Lay sheets beneath infected trees and shake the tree lightly to cause the beetles to fall. Gather the sheets, along with the fallen beetles, and remove from the area. Destroy the beetles by fire.