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Lesser Aloe Weevil

Rhadinomerus illicitus

Lesser Aloe Weevil

A close up of a lesser aloe weevil with head turned from camera Rhadinomerus illicitus
A Lesser Aloe Weevil is a beetle belonging to the True Weevil family, that falls within in the Snout and Bark Beetle superfamily (Curculionoidea). The True Weevil family is one of the largest and most diverse families found on the tree of life, holding somewhere over 80,000 species. Unfortunately, many species found within the family are considered pests. Rhadinomerus illicitus feeds primarily on Aloe spp. and can be particularly harmful to the plants it infests. Read on to learn our tips and tricks on detecting and treating a suspected infestation.
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Traits

Grubs burrow into the stems of Aloe plants, causing secondary rotting in most cases.
Vine weevil eggs are a source of food for other predatory insects, rodents and reptiles.

Appearance

Adults: A small beetle (5-10mm), the lesser Aloe Weevil is snouted and dark brown and black. The pronotum (body part following the head) is dark brown, where the elytra (wing casings) is the same dark brown-black colour, however, possesses lighter brown mottling. The legs are mostly light brown, but there are some darker patches on the very top leg segments (femur). The antennae are characteristically jointed/ bent at an angle. Adult beetle feeding results in circular (ish) lesions with browning in the middle where the leaf has dried out. Larvae: The grubs reside within the plant while they develop. They are maggot-like with brown-orange heads. Plump looking, the maggots will stay near the crown of the plant until ready to pupate.

Symptoms

Any sudden losses in vigour or wilting should be acted upon immediately! Any circular lesions on the leaves of Aloe is the tell-tale sign of a weevil infestation. Lesions begin brown but eventually turn black with time. The leaves in the centre begin to loose vigour and turn black first. Upon removing the leaves, you might see one or two grubs with orange heads, and lots of goo! Eggs can be laid within or beneath the leaves. You might see some small, brown-black beetles when out with a torch at night.

Activity

Nocturnal

Personality

Order

Coleoptera

Family

Curculionidae

Metamorphosis

Complete

Distribution

South Africa

Biological treatment

Regularly looking at plants to catch the lesions on the leaf left by weevils will aid quick detection. With the adult weevils, you can pick them off by hand when they come out at night or use sticky barriers to catch them on. If you have had a history of weevil infestations, you should attempt a torch check at least a few times a week. Day checks are required to assess whether any eggs have been laid beneath the leaves of Aloe plants. If you've detected an infestation a little too late, remove the inner leaves from the plant. It's these leaves which are attacked by the larvae (grubs). Use gloves, sticks, old gardening tools to remove all the rotting plant material and insect faeces from within the plant. This typically reveals the larvae feeding within. Place any grubs/ beetles found into a cup of soapy water. Weevils are thick-skinned and can sometimes survive a stomp of a shoe. They also play dead when disturbed, so they are masters of disguise! Aloes should recover following this, but it's always best to keep a close eye on them during this stage. They may regenerate multiple crowns/ heads following this too. Sometimes it can be good to remove some of them so that the Aloe plant can support itself.

Attracts

Aloe plants.

Aloe

Aloe spp.

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