The Q&A Archives: Bugs snip strawberries

Question: This past year I had small, long-nosed, brown insects snipping off my developing strawberries before they ripened. I lost most of my early crop. What are these insects? John Braun Thornville, OH

Answer: It sounds like the strawberry weevil or strawberry clipper, which is found east of the Rockies pretty much everywhere but the Florida peninsula, says Roger Williams, entomologist at Ohio State University's Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The clipper is related to the boll weevil. It's a problem early in the season when the adults that overwinter in nearby debris piles and woods emerge as temperatures approach 60 F. The adults puncture and lay eggs in the developing strawberry buds and 'clip' the bud, leaving it hanging from the stem or on the ground. The young larvae develop inside the bud and adults emerge in late June to feed on clover and other flowers before hibernating, Williams explains. Clean up any clipped buds soon as you see them to reduce future populations. There is only one generation a year. Home-garden sprays aren't a very effective way to eliminate this pest. The best control is to exclude it by placing a floating row cover over the strawberry plants in early spring to prevent the adults from laying eggs, Williams recommends. Remove the cover once most buds open and the danger of attack has passed, he adds.

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