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What are weevils? What your business needs to know

Around the world, when it comes to pests that can ruin entire shipments of food or fields of crops, one of the most common pests is the simple weevil. For an insect so small, it is amazing just how fast weevils can infest a commercial food processing or food handling business. Likewise, weevils can cause a lot of damage to commercial farms by infesting crops like wheat and grains.

Because weevils are so small (most of them are less than 6mm in length), they can sometimes be hard to see. Weevils are also very specialized, often attacking one kind of crop or food product only. Farmers and business owners often may not realize they have a weevil infestation until the food starts going bad, or the crops start to die off. This makes food products unsalable and can cost businesses tremendous financial loss.

Ehrlich Pest Control is the expert in taking care of businesses in the food processing and handling industries. We can provide treatments that will get rid of weevils and offer services to prevent weevils from coming back. If you think your business might be at risk for weevils, contact your local Ehrlich office today.

What is a weevil?

There are many species of weevil around the world. All of them are a type of beetle and part of the Curculionoidea superfamily. Almost all of them are herbivorous, which means they love to eat plants. There are reportedly more than 60,000 species of weevils, but there is only a percentage of them who are “true” weevils. Some other species of beetle have been given the name, but they are not actually weevils.

The vast majority of weevil species burrow into the stalks or portions of plants and will eat them from the inside. Most weevils prefer to be in nature and eat plants (including crops), it is very easy for businesses that store rice or wheat/flour to end up with weevils inside them.

How do weevils eat?

Weevils have specialized mouthparts. The typical weevil has a long “snout” which allows them to pierce the stalks and grains. Some weevils are so small, they can even burrow into a single grain of rice to eat it from the inside out. Once weevils have eaten away the insides of the plant they are feasting upon, the plant usually dies.

Rice weevils, grain weevils, wheat weevils and other species can be found in-store food products. Weevils can infest entire supplies of wheat, grains, or rice. They are also common in stores of pasta and other food substances made from wheat. This is why weevils can be a real problem for food storage and food processing businesses.

Common types of weevils

Some regions of the U.S.  have more weevil activity than the rest of the country, including most of the northeastern states. This includes states like Maine, which seems to be a haven for weevils. Some of the most common types of weevils found in businesses there include:

Acorn weevil

Acorn Weevil

This type of weevil has a very long snout which it uses to pierce the skin of various types of fruit. The weevils dig channels into the fruit and then lay eggs inside of them. The initial piercing of the fruit is enough for them to go bad, but once the eggs hatch, the fruit is completely ruined.

Oak timberworm weevil

These beetles are also black in color and elongated a bit. They have gold flecks on their backs and they love to eat wood. This means an infestation of this invasive species can cause the death of dozens of trees, but can even cause some damage to wooden structures in buildings.

Black vine weevil

Black Vine Weevil

A black-colored weevil that is notorious for its voracious appetite and willingness to eat just about any kind of fruit. These weevils do not fly. These weevils are hard to find, but they cause great damage to plants growing in containers.

Strawberry root weevil

A brown beetle that loves to prey upon the roots and above-ground portions of the strawberry plant. These weevils are found all across North America, in the United States and across Canada. The adults are only about six millimeters long and will often be found within the leaves of strawberry plants.

Pale green weevil

Pale Green Weevil

Hard to see because they are green and blend in with the plants they love to devour. These weevils are a broad-snout type of weevil and can fly. They are also sometimes known as leaf weevils.

How to get rid of weevils

The problem with weevils is that by the time most people realize they have them, it’s too late and too difficult to get rid of them within the stores of flour, rice or other food. Weevils lay a lot of eggs within the plants they devour and once they hatch and infest the food, they are too pervasive to be rescued. This is why weevils can be so expensive for businesses in the food industry because often the entire food shipment and stores of grain have to be disposed of.

The best way to get rid of weevils is to make sure they never get a foothold within the food stores. This means storing any stores of flower or rice in cold areas that are secured. Make sure the food is inspected before it’s stored next to other bags or stores of food. Weevils can jump from one box or bag to another.

Weevils do not survive well in cold environments, so reducing the temperature can stop weevils. Make sure the storage areas around your warehouse are scrubbed clean to ensure larvae are removed and weevils do not develop.

For restaurants and other businesses with food, store flour and grain in small amounts. This can reduce the risk of weevils, too.

Remember, weevils can be transported across borders and from other parts of the world. Shipments of food, flour, wheat, rice, and timber can be treated to get rid of weevils before they end up in areas where the insects can establish a foothold.

Ehrlich Pest Control gets rid of weevils

Ehrlich has treatment programs for foodservice and food storage businesses. We have been servicing businesses in those industries for decades now and understand the very sensitive nature of getting rid of and preventing pests like weevils from infesting food stores.

Contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control office and discuss what your food business is and if you have concerns about weevils. We’ll work with you to get rid of these pests and prevent their return.

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