The Q&A Archives: Hollyhock Insects

Question: In the fall when I collect Hollyhock seeds and bring them in the house, when they warm up, little critters crawl out of the seeds. They are black with a snout for a nose, or what I think is a nose. What are these, when are the eggs laid for them, on the blossom?

Answer: What you've discovered are snout beetles or weevils. These hard-bodied insects comprise the largest family, with about 2,500 species in the United States. All feed on plants. The females bore into fruits, seeds, and stems to lay their eggs. They're considered a major agricultural pest because of the damage they do to food crops. Usually the female cuts through the seed coverings, lay their eggs, and then seal the seeds with a gelatinous secretion. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat the seeds. Many of the weevils live on or near host plants; mostly weeds. Rid your garden of weeds to eliminate breeding places, and inspect your flowers for signs of adult weevils. Handpick any you see. You can place paper bags over the maturing flower heads if you want to save the seeds to plant next year. The bags are an effective barrier to the adult weevils. Since you're aware of the presence of these insects, you can sort through your seeds and destroy the critters.

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