The most noteworthy pepper insect pest in southern North America is Anthonomus eugenii Cano, or the pepper weevil. It’s active throughout the year every month except December through January, destroying your plants as they eat the fruits of your labor. Plants susceptible to weevils include all peppers, eggplants and some nightshades. Adult pests are long-lived, produce overlapping crops of offspring and over-winter where food supplies are good. Six new baby weevils are produced for every day that one mature adult slinks under the radar. Begin chemical control measures at first bloom to get the jump on these pests early, before they begin reproducing and build up a healthy arsenal of bugs in the process.
Remove nightshade plants from your property immediately. Pepper weevils are attracted to these, which are sometimes referred to as “secondary host” plants.
Set out yellow sticky traps in your pepper site to pick off a few early arrivals. These are also an excellent indication of weevil activity in the immediate area.
Examine each pepper plant closely at least once weekly, beginning as soon as you set them out. Most adult pepper weevils concentrate on the upper areas of the plant. Look for tiny dark puncture specks on foliage and stems, which they’ll feed upon until the preferred blooms and fruits appear. Pick off and squash any bugs that you find.
Apply sprays before the pepper plants begin blooming, and continue throughout the growing season and harvest time. Organic insecticides approved for treating pepper weevils include Permethrin, Oxamyl, Esfenvalerate, and Cryolite. Only adult insects that come into direct contact with these will be killed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Check each developing pepper fruit weekly for the presence of weevils. Pay particular attention to terminal buds and bud clusters, where adults tend to focus feeding efforts. Eggs are often laid in these areas, as well.
Switch insecticides if damage or excessive visible sightings of the insects persist.
Pick up and destroy any immature peppers that fall from the plants. Fruit drop is often the first noticeable sign of a weevil infestation. The fallen fruits are infested with feeding larvae. Don’t add these fruits to your compost pile.
Remove and destroy any plant material at the end of the season to avoid carryover into the next growing cycle. Don’t toss any of it onto your compost pile.