Nature on our doorsteps: Vine Weevils

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

In the garden, Vine Weevils have become a real pest for gardeners.

In spring and summer, this distinctive insect with a long ‘snout’ munches away on plants overnight, leaving characteristic notches along leaf margins.

Evidence of Vine Weevils feeding on Fuschia leaves compressor

Evidence of Vine Weevils feeding on Fuschia leaves

While this may look unsightly, it does not appear to have too much of an impact on the plant’s health. The Weevil’s grubs, however, are a different matter.

The adult female lays her eggs under the soil, at the base of the plant’s stem. On hatching, the little white larvae (grubs) eat the plant’s roots throughout autumn and winter. 

By the time the grubs emerge as adults in the following spring, the plant’s roots are gone and the plant dies. 

Weevil numbers have increased in recent years. 

Vine Weevils have distinctive long snouts compressor

Vine Weevils have distinctive long 'snouts'

This is most likely due to the trend for buying and growing garden plants in tubs and containers. 

When living in the ground, natural predators in the soil hunt for the grubs, and this helps to control their numbers. In plant pots, however, the grubs are safe from predators, so most of them will survive into adulthood to lay more eggs in other plant containers. 

It is just as well that Vine weevils and their grubs are eaten by a variety of predators like birds, frogs, shrews, hedgehogs and beetles.

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