JARS v53n2 - A Bug that Shares Your Interest In Your Garden

A Bug that Shares Your Interest In Your Garden
Bob George
Issaquah, Washington

One of our garden insects that really enjoys and shares your love and interest in your rhododendron garden is the root weevil. This fellow has a number of aliases: Otiorhynchus , strawberry root weevil, woods weevil and no doubt others. The weevil travels by night and feasts also in the dark, so to observe and to share his adventures you must also make that night journey through your garden. Success in curtailing his dastardly deeds requires one or both of these actions: catch-em and kill-em, or spray the plant and let them do it to themselves.

For "catch-em and kill-em" you must be willing to hunt in the dark. Well, you can have the help of a flash light. The equipment beyond the light is a small container of water with some detergent added so the insect will sink in the water and not float. The problem with floating insects is that they tend to want to climb out of the container.

While walking through the garden looking for damaged leaves, you must not shake or disturb the plants. The weevil drops from his perch on the edge of the rhododendron leaf at the slightest disturbance. This reflex action of our target can be an advantage, if earlier you have placed a sheet under the plant to catch the falling weevil. This is a good method of catching a number all in one action, that is, if you can place the drop cloth earlier.

To get back to the catch-em technique, look at the leaves, both the damaged ones and the undamaged ones. You will see the weevil on the edges of the leaf most often but sometimes on the surface or underside. The underside is difficult because, if you touch or try to turn the leaf, the weevil will drop to the ground. The chance of finding one in the dirt is highly unlikely. After you spot your garden guest, you must carefully pick him from his perch. Be careful not to shake the plant any more than you need to, as, if there are others, they will drop and you will lose the chance to catch more.

A fortunate thing for us is that I have never been bitten by a weevil, nor ever heard of that happening, so carry-on.