Pea weevils are more often a problem in agricultural fields than the home garden, but if you notice leaves with scalloped cuts around the edges or pea pods with deformed or missing seeds, pea weevils are the likely culprit. Proper soil preparation and planting can prevent most weevil infestations, but control pea weevils with natural means or pesticide applications if they are causing serious damage.
Identification of Pea Weevils
Adult pea weevils are speckled brown, with a short, broad snout. You’ll find them under the pea leaves or on the soil. Pea weevil eggs are white when they are first laid, but darken to almost black before the insects hatch. The larvae are white and C-shaped with no legs.
Damage from Pea Weevils
Adult pea weevils destroy pea crops by eating the leaves and stems. Leaves may appear ragged or scalloped, and in severe infestations, the entire plant may be destroyed. Female pea weevils lay eggs on pea pods. The larvae hatch and crawl inside the pod where they consume the seeds.
Prevention of Pea Weevils
Pea weevils are more prevalent in heavy, clay soils than in fine, well-amended soil. Till soil in the spring to remove clods and destroy any overwintering pea weevils. Amend heavy soils with compost or manure to lighten them. Plant peas as early in the spring as possible so harvest occurs before pea weevils hatch. Peas can tolerate light frost, so plant them as soon as the soil can be worked — three to four weeks before the last expected frost. Look under leaves for pea weevils and hand pick them. Drop pea weevils, as well as their eggs and larva, in a bucket of soapy water to destroy them.
Controls for Pea Weevils
Pea weevils rarely occur in large enough numbers in the home garden to warrant pesticide use. Control them, if possible, with cultural controls first. If they are destroying your crop, though, control pea weevils with pesticide sprays labeled for treating weevils, such as Carbaryl and Sevin. Spray on a clear, cloudless day, following package directions carefully. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and gloves whenever you make pesticide applications.
Further Reading on the Pea Weevil