Texas: Pecan Weevils – Verifying Damaged Nuts

Pecan weevil grubs and damaged pecan. Photo: Texas AgriLife Extension

Pecan weevil is one of the most important nut infesting insects of pecan and as such this insect is not only a producer issue but also a state and industry problem. Making positive identifications of an infestation can be important for making management decisions, purchasing property for future orchards, determining new infestations/new county records and for quarantine regulations.

The most obvious sign of a pecan weevil infestation will be the exit holes created by emerging pecan weevil grubs in the pecan shell. However, holes in a pecan shell can also be created by birds, rodents, other insects and by mechanical means. With the aid of a compound dissecting scope or hand lends you can determine if a pecan was damaged by pecan weevil.

Figure 1. Pecan weevil larval exit holes. Photo credit: Pat Porter, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

Pecan weevil infested nuts typically contain 3 or 4 larvae with all larvae becoming ready to exit the nut at the same time. It is thought that each larva begins to cut an exit hole in the shell. Typically, the one that breaks through first completes it and other larvae exit through it too; occasionally a nut will contain two PW exit holes.

Figure 2. Pecan weevil grubs and damaged pecan

Bird pecks and rodent gnawing can scar or damage the exterior nut surface but seldom leave a distinct circular hole the size of the PW head capsule. With this type of damage there will be kernel (nut meat) still present in the pecan.

Figure 3. Bird peck damage to pecan shells

This is an exterior view of a pecan weevil larval exit hole. The circular hole size corresponds to the round, hard, head capsule of the larva which presses through the hole followed by the larger fleshy body. The circular head capsule size hole with mandibular scars and beveled edge around the exterior edge of the shell are considered definitive evidence of PW nut infestation.

Figure 4. Pecan weevil larval exit hole

This exterior view of a hole in a pecan shell, although almost circular it is irregular in shape with sharp, defined edges, not characteristic of pecan weevil larval emergence.

Figure 5. Hole in pecan shell created by unknown source

This is an interior view of the pecan weevil larval exit hole. Note the round beveled appearance. The small mandibles of the larvae cut the exit hole through the shell which leaves scars on the inside surface around the exit hole.

Figure 6. View from inside a pecan looking at a pecan weevil exit hole

This is an interior view of a hole created in a pecan shell by an unknown source. Note irregular shape and the sharp edges of the hole.

Figure 7. View from inside a pecan looking a hole that was not created by pecan weevil

Additional information on pecan weevil can be found here.

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