Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Contact Us | Home RSS
 
 
 

Weevils in the alfalfa

From the Farm

June 8, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

(I am taking the week off for needed relaxation. Please enjoy this column from June 2010. It's appropriate, because we do have weevils in our alfalfa again this year.)

Steve and I haven't seen each other much in the last several days. Between our work and our extra-curricular activities, it's not unusual for us to not have enough time to actually carry on a "conversation" for days on end.

We have times where a few questions regarding the day's schedule is all we really have a chance to talk about.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

Wednesday night was our chance to have a down-to-earth talk about what has been going on around us.

I was lying in bed, getting ready to continue reading my book and Steve came into the bedroom.

He fell back onto the bed, crossed his arms behind his bed, and let his legs dangle over the edge.

I rolled over onto my left side, and propped myself up on my elbow. I was getting ready for what I thought was going to be a deep, thought-provoking kind of conversation.

I miss those.

My expectations were running high. Was he going to bring up the swear word the President of the United States used? Was he going to talk about the eight primaries held Tuesday, when women rocked the boat?

Were we going to discuss the plans to put lights up at Searles baseball field again?

"I found out we have alfalfa weevils in the alfalfa," he offered.

I rolled over onto my back. I find alfalfa weevils to be less than stimulating.

"Really?" I asked. "Are they in the field over here across the creek? And that's why that alfalfa stand looks bad? Or is the alfalfa weevil in the corn field?"

"Yup."

"What exactly do alfalfa weevils do?" I asked.

"They chew up the alfalfa plant." Steve said.

"What do they do then? Spit it out?" I answered with a chuckle.

(I have this vision of little alfalfa weevils sitting on bar stools spitting wads of alfalfa at a spittoon.)

"No. They eat it," commented Steve.

He didn't see the humor in my spitting comment. I realized he wasn't in the mood for a fun conversation.

The scientific name for alfalfa weevils is Hypera Postica Gyllenhal. I'm thinking Jake Gyllenhaal, aren't you? Wonder if he knows he shares his name with an ugly field pest. It's too bad Mr. Gyllenhaal isn't the pest living in our field. Imagine Jake Gyllenhall sitting on a bar stool spitting alfalfa plants into the spitoon. Ah

They start out their lives as modest, shiny little eggs that look like lemon-flavored jelly beans.

Apparently, the mother weevils don't trust anybody, because they lay their eggs in the stems of the alfalfa plant, or in curled up leaves on the ground.

Once the eggs hatch, the larvae could be entered into the World's Gnarliest Larvae Contest. Short, plump and lime green, with a brown head, they have a body only a mother could love.

The larvae forage around for roughly three to four weeks. Eating all the leaves they come across. Of course they like to consume the freshest, tiniest leaves at the top of the plant, but when that source runs out they have no problem moving down to the tough older leaves. The weevils will eat only the soft part of the leaves, leaving what scientists call, a skeleton.

Some diet plan that is.

Once they have filled their stomachs, it's time to build their cocoons that look like cotton balls small enough for Tinker Bell to use after her shower to clean her ears.

Steve and I have never had to deal with alfalfa weevils in any of our history of owning our farm. We have dealt with naughty children, rogue dogs, wood ticks, and wasps that make Steve's arms swell when they decide to sting him, but never alfalfa weevils.

We could bring in a natural predator of the weevil parasitic wasps. These wasps, small though they may be, deposit their eggs right in the weevil larvae. So maybe the mother weevil isn't the only one to love the larvae.

Yucky. The parasitoid larva kills the weevil as it completes its cocoon and uses it as its own. It's evil, but not very effective as the weevil population will only decrease 30 percent.

Well, I guess you could say that Steve and I did have a conversation about something important. I did learn about the weevil, and day dreamed about Jake Gyllenhaal.

For questions, or comments, I can be e-mailed at kahoffman@newulmtel.net.

 
 

 

I am looking for:
in:
News, Blogs & Events Web