Vine weevils

by Richard Jones

A recent comment to a blog entry got me thinking about vine weevils. I haven't seen many in my garden for a few years. I wonder if this is the result of my zero-tolerance approach.

rj-080409-vine-weevil-trussA recent comment to a blog entry got me thinking about vine weevils. I haven't seen many in my garden for a few years. I wonder if this is the result of my zero-tolerance approach. Along with lily beetles, this is about the only creature I will deliberately crush under foot. Even so, I have a nagging admiration for their dark brown armour, ponderous waddling and their instinct to survive.

Though they are flightless, lacking the membranous flight wings that carry most beetles up and about, they get everywhere. A few years ago I cleared out the small window boxes of the dead and dying plants that were clearly not doing very well. All I found, instead of roots, were lots of these small (7-8mm) creamy white maggots — vine weevil grubs.

The adult weevils themselves are very tough. I was astonished to find the specimen pictured above in an East Dulwich garden. It was lying on the patio waving its legs in the air. At first sight I thought it was something new, a pale-bodied weevil, rather than the usual dark brown species. But no, the white is spider silk. This one had been caught by some arachnid, trussed up with winding threads, but had still managed to escape and crawl, shackled, across the concrete. Respect.

Vine weevils go exploring at night, and they must be a pretty curious bunch. Perhaps not as curious as entomologists though. I don't want to upset people, but at least six exotic relatives of vine weevils have turned up in Britain in the last 10 years, several in Chelsea Harbour, brought in from Europe with planted shrubs. A friend of mine went looking for them through the dark streets of night-time Chelsea. He was exploiting a little-known fact that these and many other strange critters fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Using a small hand-held UV dark-light lantern he was creeping about the pavements examining fence posts and peering over garden walls. Needless to say he soon had to explain his strange actions to members of the local constabulary.

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Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2009 at 19:19

Here in the West Midlands vine weevils are alive and thriving. Despite every precaution taken with planting, using recommended chemicals etc. nothing deters them from invading every pot I plant up. Favourite plants seem to be heucheras and cyclamen. It breaks your heart to see entire planting arrangements keel over without warning due to the ever-hungry grubs. The only one to benefit is my robin, who is more than happy to tuck in!

Gardeners' World Web User 08/04/2009 at 21:18

I'm also very familiar with the old weevil! Only this week I was potting on and clearing my propagation area. In each pot of Ophiopogon (which I must say I detest) were at least two of this wonderful weevil's offspring. They were immediately offered to the birds as food of course! I very rarely kill anything, but I completely agree with you on the issue of weevils and lilly beetle! Ryan

Gardeners' World Web User 09/04/2009 at 17:20

I have for the first time found the evil weevil larvae in my strawberry planter - a creature that serves no useful purpose whatsoever. I am hoping the nematodes that I have ordered for delivery in May will put an end to these wee beasties!! Container growing is becoming ever more popular and it seems that it is container planting that is the attraction.

Gardeners' World Web User 10/04/2009 at 19:38

Vine Weevils alive an well in Scotalnd. ESP on primulas

Gardeners' World Web User 10/04/2009 at 19:54

we have these pests in most of our containers.we have a large biscuit tin that fit in our oven and we clear out and replace any affected containers treat them with weevil killer and then each time we use our oven the tin is put in to cook the compost in the remaining heat and it can then be reused

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