Dr. William Lester, UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County
A common pest we see at our office is the Sri Lankan Weevil (Myllocerus undecimpustulatus undatus). This small pest has a very large host range, which means that you may find it on any one of 150 different plant species in your yard! The adult weevils are a distinctive gray, 6.0 to 8.5 mm long and feed on plant leaves, while the immature beetles live underground and feed on plant roots. This invasive insect was first detected in South Florida in 2000, and since then has spread to most of the state.
Adult weevils damage plant leaves by ‘notching’ them. They feed inward from the leaf edges and, with severe infestations, can almost defoliate a plant. But in most cases the damage is not nearly that severe and can be considered cosmetic if the plant recovers. They can be commonly found on crepe myrtles and citrus trees here in Hernando County, but rarely require any control.
Pesticides are of limited use on these pests because the adults can fly, hide, or drop to the soil when disturbed. The larvae are even tougher to target because they live in the soil. One creative way to control the adult weevils is to “vigorously shake a branch over an open, inverted umbrella. The collected weevils can then be dumped into a container of soapy water” (https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1016).
For more information about insect pests in your landscape or home, or to have a sample identified, stop by or call UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County weekdays from 8 to 5. Our office is in the airport industrial park at 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, 34604; (352) 754-4433. In addition, Master Gardeners are available to assist you at the Master Gardener nursery from 9 AM to 11AM every Wednesday and Saturday (weather permitting). Our nursery is located behind the Hernando County Fairgrounds at 19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville.