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After the coddling moth (Cydia pomonella), the plum curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar), a weevil, is considered the most significant pest of North American stone fruit orchards. Its main hosts are plum and peach trees, but it also damages apricots, nectarines, cherries, apples and other plants in the family Rosaceae. Adult plum curculios feed on petals, leaves and young fruits, and ovposit up to 150 eggs in the spring on young fruits. The fruits then fall off the tree prematurely while the larvae develop inside, or become susceptible to brown rot fungus on the tree. The white larvae (which are usually bent into a U-shape) mature in 3-5 weeks, then eat their way out of the fruit to pupate in the ground. In the warmer portions of its range, the plum curculio can produce two generations a year. The adult weevils, which are about 7mm long, mottled grey and brown with four dark colored humps on the wing covers, have a characteristic weevil snout with chewing mouthparts and overwinter in leaf litter. Although Conotrachelus nenuphar is native to North America, it has modified its original diet significantly from the native wild plums and pin cherries (e.g. Prunus americana and P. pensylvanica) to include many non-native rosaceous fruit trees now cultivated in the US and Canada. Thus C. nenuphar is treated as a potentially highly destructive and expensive invasive threat to Europe, Central- and South America, and subjected to quarantine restrictions such as phytosanitary measures (since the adult is the most likely phase to be transported across borders). Pesticides are commonly used to control C. nenuphar and are especially effective at early stages of fruit development. Biological controls using fungi (Beauveria bassiana, Metarhizium anisopliae) and nematodes (Steinernema, Heterorhabditis) to reduce populations are being explored. Cultivation of resistant Malus species is another potential means to avoid fruit loss.

(CABI 2011; EPPO; Miller, Steele and Smith; Shapiro-Ilan, Mizell, and Campbell 2002)


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