Plum Curculio: A Serious Early-season Pest of Fruit

The plum curculio is a serious early-season pest of pome (apple, pear) and stone fruits (peach, cherry). The adult is a weevil or snout beetle. Females insert their eggs into cavities that have been chewed into newly set fruit. Legless, grub-like larvae feed and develop over a 2- to 3-week period. The distinct brown head and C-shaped body of the plum curculio larva (Figure 1) distinguishes it from headless, tapered fly maggots that can be found in fruit, such as the spotted wing Drosophila.

Figure. 1 Plum curculio larva in peach (Photo: L. Townsend, UK)

Figure 1.  Plum curculio larva in peach (Photo: L. Townsend, UK)

Adult plum curculios damage fruit as they feed on the surface; females chew egg-laying wounds that cause lumpy cat-faced fruit. Larvae cause “wormy,” mushy fruit that drops prematurely. Mature grubs leave fruit and pupate in the soil. There is one generation each year. Management of this important pest must be preventive because the larvae are protected within the fruit.

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By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist

Posted in Fruit