Adult vine weevil on yew tree stem
How to recognise vine weevil damage on plants

As garden pests go, the hatred that gardeners have for vine weevils is right up there along with slugs and aphids. But it’s not just the amount damage they cause that is the problem, it's the sneaky way they go about it. The problem is that the adult beetles are rarely seen and the larvae are only discovered if the soil around the roots of an infested plant is significantly disturbed. So with few if any adults or larvae around to identify just how do you recognise vine weevil damage on your plants?

Adult vine weevil eating a leaf
How to recognise vine weevil damage on plants
The adult vine weevil – in between making a significant number of unsightly, irregular notches in the sides of your plants leaves - lays their eggs in the soil at the base of their preferred plants. That way, the newly hatched larvae can munch their way through the root system - completely unnoticed - until your plant topples over in an unrecoverable heap.

Unfortunately, not only is this often the first symptom you'll come across, it is usually far too late to do anything about it.

If that wasn't enough to worry about, vine weevil larvae will also bore into the tubers, and succulent stem bases of herbaceous plants and - if left uncontrolled - can cause absolute devastation through beloved herbaceous borders.

Vine weevil larvae lying on soil
Vine weevil larvae
Vine weevils are not able to survive the cold temperatures of our winters yet every year brings a new infestation, brought into the country on infected container stock. Although one or two weevils by themselves are unable to do much damage, when you consider that all vine weevils are female and each one can produce as many as 1000 larvae over the summer, you can see how quickly a localized infestation can occur.

They are also notoriously difficult to find - even if you do find characteristic bite marks on leaf margins - because the adults are nocturnal, only feeding at night. With container grown stock you can search for their stout, creamy white with brown head larvae by removing root balls from their pots for inspection. But just because you didn’t see any of these grubs one week, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be there the next.


Typical vine weevil irregular notches on Rhododendron leaves
Typical vine weevil damage
Clearly, different plants will show slightly different symptoms. Annuals and perennials will often turn yellow and wilt while with hardy nursery stock, the base of the stems will become loose in the ground, although this is usually a more serious problem with pot grown stock.

In almost all cases the plants will show at least some of the characteristic notching in the leaf margins.


Vines - obviously
Bergenia species
Epimedium species
Euonymus – evergreen species
Heuchera species
Hydrangea species
Photinia species

Of course find out that you have vine weevil on your plants is just the beginning. Once identified you now need to manage them to prevent further damage. To find out more click onto the following link:

For related articles click onto the following links:
Vine Weevil

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