Pea leaf weevil is destructive

Jocelyne Sewell offers a few tips on protecting your precious pea crop

I wanted to write about dividing irises this week as it should be done now for blooms next year. However I will keep this subject for next time as something more important came up. I got a phone call from a lady whose son had to destroy his saved pea seeds because of an infestation of little bugs. So today I will share what I know and what I learned researching the subject.

I was familiar with the pea leaf weevil that eats the margin of the leaves on the plants. I had them before and this is why I always transplant my peas now. This way the plants are big enough when I put them in the ground and they can stand a little bit of damage without any problems.

Last year however, I found a few holes in some of my stored peas. I also found the little bugs in them and in some of the jars I was storing them in. I looked on the internet for solutions and was able to find a site that said to put them in the freezer for a couple of weeks. To make sure, I left them there for a full month.

All my older peas until 2014 had never had this problem. I didn’t think they would germinate but most of all the ones with the holes in them did. I had thrown some in the compost and they came up there too.

I changed the location of my plantings all over and made new beds for them this year where no peas had ever been planted before. I only found one pea with a small hole in it and I left all the other peas in the opened trays for almost three weeks. Never saw anything and I decided to put them away.

Thanks to the phone call I received, I thought I should check my peas again. I took all my four varieties of peas: snow peas, shelling peas, sugar snap and my soup peas and all of them had some weevils in them. I guess it took that long for the eggs to hatch and those little suckers to have a feast. The damage was not that bad because it was caught early in the season but if I had waited until February I doubt I would have any left.

The reason the peas can still germinate is that the weevils only eat a certain part of the seeds. If you are saving seeds, have a look at them now. Mine are in the freezer.

The following is from: https://www.grainscanada.gc.ca/storage-entrepose/pip-irp/pw-bp-eng.htm

Pea weevil Bruchus pisorum (Linnaeus) Adults are 6 to 7 mm long, globular in shape with long legs. Signs of infestation are damaged seeds with entrance or exit holes. Both adult and larvae feed on the inside of seeds. Feeding causes tiny, dot-like entrance holes. Feeding also causes larger, round exit holes with a diameter of 2.5 mm and excavated seed. Weevils attacks peas that are grown in gardens and fields. Large populations may reduce stored crop to little more than dust. Geographic range: Is distributed worldwide and across Canada. Infestation results in seeds that may not germinate or produce weak plants. Weevils cannot persist in storage as they cannot re-infest stored seed. Main sources of pea weevil are broken peas, volunteer peas and stored infested seed. Females lay eggs on outside of pod. Larvae develop in growing seeds within pods.After pupation within the seed, the adult chews an exit hole through the seed coat.

For more information: 250-558-4556 or  plantlady1@shaw.ca

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.