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Monday, May 13, 2013

Insect Damage to Kiwi But Can't Find Insect

Q. I have a bit of a quandary. My male kiwi died and I did everything I could do to keep it alive. I then contacted Parks Seed and they sent me a new male free of charge, not even shipping. But then something started eating the leaves of my female kiwi. I searched every leaf and found nothing. I thought whatever it is must be eating at night and hiding during the day. I was right. It was a beetle. I found and identified the culprit; a black vine weevil. Now here is my question. If they have laid eggs in the pots (still in their one gallon originals) of my new male or the original female what do I do to stop the infestation if there are eggs or already larva feeding on the roots?

A. Kiwi is a bit cold sensitive for some parts of the valley. So be careful during the winter. However, we should be able to grow hardy kiwi here in most locations. You will have a hard time managing this plant in a 1 gallon container for any length of time. I would get it in the ground.

            Yes, it could be a black vine weevil or possibly root weevils which are more common here. It is possible the plant came to you with black vine weevil as a hitchhiker. Black vine weevil adults emerge in spring and cause plant injury by feeding upon blossoms, clusters, and small fruits.

            I would follow the same recommendations for growing it as our fruit trees; plant it in the ground with lots of compost at the time of planting, water it in thoroughly and stake the plant to keep it from moving, mulch the surface of the soil with organic mulch.

            If you collect some from the leaves at night and send it to the state entomologist through the State Department of Agriculture we can get this resolved.

            Control efforts are usually directed against the larvae living in the soil. Root weevils come out at night, as you have discovered, and chew on the edge of leaves leaving the edges of the leaves very raggedy looking. Control is difficult but they usually do not cause extensive damage that would kill the plant.

            When they feed on ornamentals we usually just ignore root weevils. If it is black vine weevil you would be looking at applying an insecticide to the soil in the container in an effort to control the larva or immature forms. You would need to look for an insecticide which lists that it controls vine weevil, can be used as a soil drench and is labeled for fruit crops.

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