Evil weevils! Agaves under attack in Austin


My mangave, the beautiful, sculptural, lusciously named and, let’s not forget, expensive Manfreda ‘Macho Mocha’ has been murdered by the agave snout-nosed weevil.


I bought it to fill a new glazed pot last winter. It looked great for about a month, as shown above, and then it suddenly sagged and sank in on itself. It became wobbly at the base. Investigating the problem, I carefully lifted the lower leaves and noticed a black beetle and some roly-polies, which I pulled out and squashed. I saw that the root system had been attacked, but I hoped the plant would recover on its own. Ha! Instead, the poor mangave continued to collapse, and I misguidedly let it flounder along.

At the Spring Fling lunch, I was chatting with agave aficianado Tom Spencer about his collection when he told me about the agave snout-nosed weevil, which had killed off several of his agaves recently. Afterward I did a little Internet research and learned that the weevils have devastated the tequila agave fields in Mexico, and they are causing losses in the U.S., including Austin. Certain agaves and yuccas, particularly Agave americana ‘Variegata’ and Yucca recurvifolia are more susceptible to attack than others, and mature specimens may be most vulnerable, but essentially any agave or related plant may fall prey. The adult chews into the base of an agave to lay its eggs, and the larvae eat and burrow to the center of the plant, introducing bacteria and destroying the plant. There are no known organic treatments, and a systemic chemical treatment seems to be the only hope. Tom, as I recall, was philosophical, saying he was watching and waiting to see which agaves would prove resistant to the pest.

Alarmed by knowledge of this menace, I took another look at my sagging mangave. I lifted its lower leaves—and the whole plant came right out of the soil, its roots completely severed. Poking around in the dirt, I saw another of the unfamiliar black beetles. With dread, I carried it inside in a cup and Googled the agave weevil. Sure enough, that’s what I had.


According to Tom and Internet sources, a scorched-earth policy is required. I dug up all the soil in the pot, found more weevils and larvae (above), crushed them all, and put all the contaminated soil in a garbage bag, which I knotted tightly and threw away to keep any eggs from hatching in the garden. Yuck.


Then I began to worry about my other agaves, particularly my prized ‘Whale’s Tongue.’ Had I brought the weevils home in the mangave’s pot? Had they already spread to my other agaves? There is no way to tell by looking because the weevils get under the stiff, spiny leaves and the larvae burrow into the plant’s heart. Anxiously, I called local nurseries The Natural Gardener and Barton Springs Nursery to ask the good folks there what I should do. They were sympathetic but could offer little advice beyond “hope for the best.” They mentioned using a systemic insecticide but said they didn’t carry any. BSN suggested using diatomaceous earth as a possible barrier for weevils traveling from one plant to another but reminded me that I’d have to reapply it after every rain. I dashed over to BSN that day for a sack of the stuff and floured my agaves, careful to wear a dust mask and eye protection. Afterward it looked like an anthrax scare in my garden, and I knew it wasn’t going to be a permanent solution.

A few days later, at Hill Country Water Gardens, I was talking to their staff horticulturist and asked what they were doing to protect their agaves. He said they were mainly just waiting for resistant agaves to emerge. “I feel that if a plant doesn’t make it, it wasn’t meant to,” he added. I nodded, tried to feel philosophical too, and said with an apologetic shrug, “Yes, only I don’t want to lose a ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave I have.” He gave me a quick look and asked how big it was. When I told him, he asked if I would call him when it blooms because, he said, it’s hard to get ‘Whale’s Tongue’ right now and he’d like some seeds. “You want to save that,” he said. “Go buy the chemicals.”

On his recommendation I bought Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub Insect Control*, with the active ingredient imidacloprid (under the trademarked name Merit), mixed it with water according to the instructions, and applied it to the soil around my agaves, mangave, and yuccas, all of which are susceptible to attack. The solution soaks into the soil and is taken up by the plant’s roots, circulating through the plant and killing any grubs or weevils that bite into it. It is not a spray, so it should not affect other insects in the garden, only those trying to eat into the treated plant. Still, it is a chemical solution, not an organic one, and I will use it judiciously, with protection, and, as recommended, just once a year.

Now I can only watch and wait, hoping the evil weevils don’t make themselves known again. I will let you know what happens.

*Update 3/5/10: Bayer no longer seems to be making the formula I recommend in this post. Now it comes with fertilizer mixed in, and I’m not sure how that will affect agaves, which prefer poor soil. It might be best to experiment with one that isn’t so dear to you.

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

44 Responses

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh Pam how devastating to find these beetles in your agaves. Booo hisss…. I hope the chemical
    does the trick and gets rid of them. It would be so sad to lose any more plants.

    Just one agave so far. I have my fingers crossed that I’ve stopped them before they can attack any others. —Pam

  2. Ki says:

    How unfortunate to have lost your large agave and I hope the systemic treatment will prevent the weevils from killing your whale’s tongue. You should at least pickle those larvae in some tequila or is it mescal – have some protein with your drink ;)

    I wonder how those tequila, mescal agave growers in Mexico prevent the weevils from decimating all their plants?

    According to the Internet sources I consulted, the agave fields in Mexico used to be interplanted with other crops—corn, for example. But as tequila demand rose, farmers switched to a monoculture of the blue agaves, inadvertently creating the perfect conditions for an insect infestation. Various Web sources said that 40% of the agave crop has been lost in recent years.

    Eating the weevil larvae may make some gardeners feel like they’re getting back at the pest, but not me! I’ll squish ’em rather than slurp ’em. —Pam

  3. ron says:

    I have been spraying nematodes (beneficials) to control grubs, fire ants, and borers in my gardens. I did not want to use chemicals, but I may have to get some for a friend’s trees. Also, we have a family of Woodpeckers who do a pretty nifty job of chasing insects in the yard and trees. We will have to trade notes on the results.

    I’ve heard positive things about using beneficial nematodes in the garden to control fire ants and white grubs. When it cools off again, I may give that a whirl too. —Pam

  4. Gail says:

    To lose a beloved plant is hard, I am sorry…I know that you thought long and hard about using the big guns. I am hoping the systemic works for your remaining agave and that incredible Whale’s Tongue. The phlox Bug is back in my garden, even though I used organic methods. I may have to raise my threat level and go to a systemic.

    Gail

    I did think long and hard about it, Gail. I go organic whenever that’s an option. But since you can’t pick these weevils off and the plant shows no symptoms until it’s too late, I decided to use the chemical. I just hope it works. Agaves are so slow-growing that losing a good-sized one is a real loss. Good luck battling your phlox bug. There’s always something, right? —Pam

  5. Diana Kirby says:

    My fingers are crossed for you and your Whale’s tongue – which is just beautiful. Your photo of the beetle and the larvae are … well … in a word — gross! Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great shot – crisp and clear – but ewwww. And they look mean, too, don’t they? Someone decimated my entire big beautiful bougainvilla and I kept looking for caterpillars, but I think it was a grasshopper who just kept eluding me. It’s so frustrating to lose things when you’re trying to protect them.

    They ARE gross. I’m repulsed by the idea of them munching away on my beautiful agaves. Good luck with your grasshopper problem. Soon it’ll be bagworm season. —Pam

  6. julie says:

    Yikes! I have a lot of agaves. I think neem oil is supposed to act as a systemic when taken up by the roots. Here’s a link with some info, but nothing about its effectiveness on the weevils – http://www.discover-neem-oil.com/neem-oil-insecticide.html.

    Thanks for the link, Julie. Neem oil sounds promising. I wonder why the organic nurseries didn’t mention it to me as an organic preventative. —Pam

  7. Cindy says:

    Pam, if there’s a silver lining to this cloud, it’s that you get to pick out a new plant for that container. Still, I know how disappointing it is to lose a prized plant. I hope that the Whale’s Tongue will stand strong against the evil weevil. I think that was my favorite plant in your garden: it definitely caused me to rethink my feelings about agaves. I found a 4 inch pot of blue agave at Shoal Creek Nursery that was similar in appearance; I’m nurturing it (and 3 pups) carefully. I doubt it’s a Whale’s Tongue, but it’s close enough to make me happy for now!

    I like the way you think, Cindy. I’ve already dug up a big volunteer Mexican feathergrass and planted it in the glazed pot. It looks very pretty, and best of all it was free. I’ll post a picture tomorrow. I’m glad that you are rethinking agaves. I had a similar change of heart after seeing Tom Spencer’s. Suddenly I noticed how very beautiful and striking they are in a garden. —Pam

  8. These are science-fiction photos – aliens arriving – blue elephants – frightening!

    In reference to ‘seeing which ones survive’ – I heard an interesting programme on the radio this morning about drought in Australia. (Apparently, Australia is on the front line when it comes to experiencing climate change and is, therefore, likely to be in the vanguard when it comes to finding ways to live with it.) They were saying that the key to living with climate change (and to carry on eating as well as gardening!) is to save seed. To keep seed and sow it locally develops strains which survive in whatever your local conditions are.

    Its sort of similar with the weevil. The plants which are of no interest to pests in a particular area will be the ones we keep growing.

    Esther

    That is reasonable and rational, and it’s exactly what all three nursery staffers told me when I consulted them about the agave weevil. Often, it’s the mature agaves that are attacked, but the pups will survive. But I just couldn’t feel philosophical about the prospect of losing my ‘Whale’s Tongue’ agave, and the horticulturalist I spoke to agreed. He pointed out that this agave does not offset pups (baby agaves), it may not produce seed for 15 years, and the seed is hard to germinate. Therefore, it’s worth more serious measures to try to protect it. —Pam

  9. Michelle says:

    Oh No! Your poor Agave. I mourn with you. It is so frustrating to lose something you treasure. I hope those chemicals kill all those evil beetles!

    Thanks for the sympathy, Michelle. Only another gardener would understand, right? —Pam

  10. gintoino says:

    Your mangave was such a beautiful plant. What shame to lose it to those pesky insects. We are having a palm weevil outburst here in the south of Portugal. Lots of palms are being destroyed by them.

    I’m sorry to hear about your palm weevils, Gintoino. Losing a mature palm would be a big loss too. —Pam

  11. laxpat says:

    From which we learn that although it ‘feels good’ to be organic, there are times when chemicals are necessary.

    Some would not agree, I suspect. But I think that the prudent use of certain non-organic treatments is justified sometimes. —Pam

  12. Priscilla says:

    Oh no. I hope your whales tongue agave stays safe. How horrible to have these pests that can be so devastating. I wish you the best of luck.

    Thanks, Priscilla. I’m keeping my fingers crossed too. —Pam

  13. vertie says:

    Yikes! And here I thought agaves were indestructible. Hope your actions will save your others.

    That’s the irony, isn’t it? Agaves are supposed to be the ultimate no-muss, no-fuss plants. Just give them sun and good drainage and leave them alone. But it turns out that even cast-iron plants have vulnerabilities. —Pam

  14. Stacy says:

    Good call on the Bayer, we use that on our roses for these gawdawful black beetles that chew the rose heads like they’re candy. But do be careful if you have pets…we lost a dog two years ago after he ate some blood meal that had been applied at the same time as the Bayer fertilizer/bug killer combo.

    I’m so sorry about your dog, Stacy. I’m glad you mentioned it in case anyone reading this decides to use it. As for us, we don’t have a dog or cat, and I don’t let the kids play outside for 24 hours after application. —Pam

  15. Susannah says:

    I am so sorry, that is a real loss. Thanks for posting all the information you gathered, that will be useful to a lot of other gardeners, I’m sure. I have to say, I think the weevils are really neat-looking if you can ignore their destructive nature. I will be thinking good thoughts for the whale’s tongue.

    Thanks, Susannah. I’ll try to see the beauty in the weevil—just before I squash it. ;-) —Pam

  16. Kevin says:

    I bought a Manfreda ‘Macho Mocha’ from Barton Springs Nursery in October and had the same experience. I figured the problem was a soil/drainage issue, but now I’m thinking it may have been this weevil! I’ll apply the Bayer product to my agaves and yuccas when I get home. I applied it two years ago to treat several crape myrtles for aphids, and I haven’t had any problems with it. The label says to reapply each year, but I’m holding off until I start having a problem again. Before I applied it, it felt like it was raining under the crepe myrtles. Three days later, no more honeydew, and I haven’t had a problem since.

    Barton Springs Nursery is where I bought my Manfreda ‘Macho Mocha’ too, Kevin. It’s one of the best nurseries in town, and I’m still a loyal customer. There’s no way to know for sure how the weevils got into my garden, but I do suspect they came home in the manfreda. When I called BSN and The Natural Gardener for advice about the problem, one staffer—and I can’t remember which nursery she was with—was surprised to hear that a manfreda had the weevils. She said they hadn’t known that manfredas were susceptible. —Pam

  17. Frances says:

    Oh Pam, save the whales (tongue). The beetle photo was fine, but the worm made me feel queasy just looking at it. And you squished a bunch of them? The thought of an invisible pest is a scary one. Hope your soak works and seeds are produced. That would be great, your contribution to the world of agaves.

    Ha, save the whales! I found 3 or 4 grubs—not too many, but enough, if you know what I mean. —Pam

  18. That just stinks! Sometimes you have to bite the proverbial bullet & pull out the proverbial big guns. I don’t blame you for using the chemicals on the Blue Whale, your limited use is justified by the circumstances of that plant. This is one of those morality tales about the danger of planting monocultures.

    So true. Apparently the agave fields in Mexico always had the weevils, but once the fields became a monoculture, the weevils really had their way with them. —Pam

  19. Lori says:

    Oh no! That’s awful! I just bought a manfreda like the one you lost, and I’m hoping it’ll be all right. At least I got it at The Natural Gardener, but if the weevils did come home in the soil, my new agave weberi planted nearby is from BSN. I’m wondering whether I should treat as a preventative measure, or just wait and see what happens.

    My fingers are crossed for your whale’s tongue agave. It’s so spectacular, and it would be such a shame to lose it.

    Lori, if you’re like me and you’d prefer not to use a chemical treatment, my advice would depend on the size/value of your new agave. There are no symptoms of weevil infestation. Once your agave manifests symptoms, it’s too late. So waiting to see what happens means deciding to do nothing. That is a worthy option, I believe, if your agave is small, easily replaceable, and not expensive to replace. Odds are it won’t be attacked anyway. But if you have a large or rare specimen, it might be worth taking preemptive action. —Pam

  20. Nancy Bond says:

    Yuck is right! What an ugly critter he is! I’m sorry about your plant — I hope you got ahead of any more of the beggars. :)

    Me too! —Pam

  21. Marie says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your agave. I hope you got rid of the agave snout-nosed weevil.

    I have my fingers crossed. —Pam

  22. I hope your Whale’s Tongue makes it, Pam – it’s like the icon for your front garden! Thanks for the heads-up on the insects – just went out to look and my agaves [two unidentified kinds, no stripes, one bluish-green, one greenish-blue] look okay so far but I’ll keep my eye on them. These agaves were given one of the best-drained spots in the yard, but had to settle for part sun. Giving a plant both full sun _and_ good drainage takes a LOT of fuss and muss around here!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I’ve probably stirred up more agave angst than necessary with this post. I don’t know how widespread the weevils are in the Austin area. However, anyone who has a big agave they’d like to protect may benefit from my experience. But it’s hard to be on the lookout for a pest you never see until it severs the roots. Darn weevils! —Pam

  23. Layanee says:

    It would be a shame to lose that beautiful Whale’s Tongue so I am keeping my fingers crossed. What an ugly, evil looking bug!

    Isn’t it though? I try not to be prejudiced about certain insects, but this one got on my bad side! —Pam

  24. Sorry about your weevil problem and hope you are able to save the Whale’s Tongue.

    So far my agaves seem okay but something’s been attacking the Spanish bayonet yucca–not just in my yard but all around my neighborhood. They are turning yellow and there are tiny bugs all over them. Are there yucca weevils, too?

    The nursery folks I consulted told me that the softleaf yucca ( Yucca recurvifolia) as well as softer-leaved agaves (like A. americana ‘Variegata’) are especially vulnerable. They didn’t mention Spanish daggers, but I suppose they might be susceptible. However, what you describe sounds like a different problem. You won’t see the weevils on the plant, and when attacked the plant looks shrunken, like it’s collapsed in on itself. I hope you figure out how to help your yuccas. —Pam

  25. Bonnie says:

    Yikes Pam. Thanks for all of the information. It’s good to know in case I have to field any calls on this over at the phone desk. I’m sending it on to some others I know that have Agaves.

    Good idea. Maybe some of the other Master Gardeners will have additional advice. —Pam

  26. Tom Spencer says:

    There are times when we are tempted to be less than soulful. Agave Snout Weevils inspire both dread and disgust- what they do to plants is, well, despicable (the three D’s of Doom.) As noted, they have already wiped out three species of agave in my garden. I think you may be wise to go nuclear, Pam. One of the things that I have heard is that large-leaved varieties of agave are particularly susceptible. So, by all means, protect your whale’s tongue from the snouted one. And, BTW, thanks for the lovely review of your visit to my garden! I am really touched by everyone’s comments. Cheers! Tom

    I have heard that too, Tom. I hope I’ve managed to protect it, even at the cost of going inorganic, but I’m not sure if I’ve done the right thing or done it in time. The ‘Whale’s Tongue’ has some yellowing, wrinkled patches on its leaves today. More worries….

    You are very welcome for the photo tour of your garden. I should thank YOU for opening your garden so hospitably. Visiting is always a delight for the senses. —Pam

  27. Pam, I use the Bayer stuff for my roses, and I am very careful with it. In the last two years, I haven’t seen any reduction of the beneficial insects. I hope the tree and shrub works for you too. I don’t want you to lose your structural agaves. Fingers are crossed.~~Dee

    Mine too, Dee. As I mentioned to Tom, above, I have fresh worries about the ‘Whale’s Tongue.’ I can only hope for the best. And start thinking of an awesome replacement if I lose it. (There’s always a silver lining—the opportunity for something new.) —Pam

  28. shawn says:

    Two things- the bugs that are getting all over the soft leaf yuccas are the leaffooted bug, here is a link

    http://www.insectimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=1242068

    The best way to take care of them is to hand pick them, at night (they can move very quick when you try to grab them during the day), using a red flashlight to see them. I use a headlamp with a red light, and I throw them into a bucket of soapy water. If you spray them, they just do not want to die, but when they hit the surface of the soapy water they cannot get out and they drown. I also did not want to spray the yuccas with anything toxic and then have bees come to the flowers and die as well.

    Secondly, re/ the agave snout weevil, does anyone know if the bayer chemical then would cause any problems for bees/ hummingbirds/ etc, that come to the plant blooms later? Just planning ahead and trying to kill the weevils only.

    Thanks and good luck.

    Hi, Shawn. Thanks for the info about the leaffooted bug. Regarding the Bayer systemic, that’s a really good question about whether it lingers in the blooms of treated plants. I don’t know but would like to find out also. My understanding is that it harms only those bugs that bite into the treated plant. It circulates, like aspirin in the bloodstream, throughout the entire plant, killing any insect that attempts to burrow into or suck the juices of the plant. However, this kind of insecticide should only be used as a last resort and only on affected plants. It is not something you want to get on your skin or risk running off into creeks or aquifers, and I’d be concerned about its safe disposal. —Pam

  29. […] nasty, new pests that have arrived in the Austin area, including cycad scale and the dreaded agave snout-nosed weevil, which I’ve unfortunately already met. Since the studio portion of the show is not available […]

  30. Linda says:

    I got the agave snout weevil from a beautiful manfreda like plant called beschnornia. The snout weevils came from the nursery. Three of my plants didn’t make it. But, three survived. On the ones that survived, I caught the grubs before serious damage was done. I used the Bayer Systemic also.

    In a landscape the weevils will head for manfredas and beschnornias before trying to attack an agave. This is because they are softer than agaves and easier for them penetrate.

    I have not seen anymore weevils since last year. Thank God.

    I live in San Antonio.

    Thank you for the information, Linda. I’m sorry to hear that you lost three of your plants, especially as I’m sure they were expensive, as many of the slow-growing manfredas and agaves are. The systemic does work, as you point out. —Pam

  31. Linda says:

    This may be off topic, but you bloggers got the word out about agave snout weevil in Austin. A “beneficial” insect, strategus aloeus has been destroying young palms in Texas for a long time. My palms were dying and I couldn’t figure out why. I created a blog about it. It’s my first blog so it doesn’t look professional. I’m just trying to get the word out.

    Hi, Linda, and thanks for commenting. I think I saw something about your bug on “Central Texas Gardener” a few weeks ago. The guest was Wizzie Brown, a local entymologist blogging at Urban IPM. You might visit her blog to find out more information. Oh, and if you’ll enable anonymous or non-Blogger comments on your blog, people who lack Blogger accounts (like me) will be able to leave a comment. Happy blogging! —Pam

  32. Don says:

    Thanks for the posting. I work at an Austin area nursery where our variegated agaves and soft leafed yuccas have been attacked by what appears to the the agave weevil. The brown goo smells like fermented tequila. I was able to get one of the larger agaves to re-root but the yuccas are compost. FYI, this was not a problem until we got a shipment of new plants from Arizona. The systemic insecticide information is useful also, though we promote organic products.

    Hi, Don. Thanks for the nursery viewpoint on this pest. I’m surprised you were able to save the larger agaves, as the weevils apparently like the bigger plants more than the pups. But the softer they are, the more susceptible they are, which is why yuccas tend to get hit hard. The same for my prized manfreda. Good luck saving your stock. And if you hear of any good organic method of control, please let me know. —Pam

  33. Peggy says:

    I just happened on your blog. I suddenly lost a large softleaf yucca last summer. At the time, I had just heard about the snout weevil on CTG. I inspected the dead plant and the hole but didn’t see anything suspicious. Today I dug up an agave that died earlier this winter. I inspected the hole and saw what I had suspected earlier: the dreaded snouted one. I am very worried they will attack some of my other agaves. I am curious as to how your salvage efforts with the Bayer product turned out. I hope you saved the Whale’s Tongue. I would like to know if the Bayer product works before I launch a full-scale attack on these critters. For general info, I live in Dripping Springs. The dead plants were purchased from different Austin nurseries in 2007.

    Hi, Peggy. The Bayer product worked for me. The Whale’s Tongue agave survives, as do my other yuccas and agaves. I plan to reapply the Bayer product to those plants at the one-year mark as a preventative measure. I’m sorry for your losses. Good luck with protecting your remaining agaves. —Pam

  34. Jimbo says:

    I have just reviewed this website after losing 2 of my 6 large century agave’s. Dug one out a month ago and another one today. And, a third one looks like it is in trouble. After reviewing the pictures and comments on this site and a few others sites I am pretty sure the Snout Weevel is the culpret. Tomorrow morning I will do some investigating of the recently dug out plant and the one in trouble. Also, will purchase some systemic insecticide. I also have a large cactus bed in the back yard (about 20 agave plants) and do not want to loose them. Until recently the most damage to the Agave plants were the deer rutting on them.

    Thanks again for the postings. Jimbo
    I will repost if I find traces of the Snout.

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve lost so many mature agaves, Jimbo. That’s terrible. If it is the weevil, be aware that they go after any of the woody lilies, especially softleaf yuccas and even nolinas, I hear. —Pam

  35. Jimbo says:

    Opps, forgot to say it’s Jimbo in Boerne, TX

  36. Diane E says:

    Interesting; we have similar problems in Tucson, AZ. Only the biggest agave’s seem to be affected, so the theory of the mature, sugar laden plants attracting them makes sense. I’m off to get the chemicals!

    My whole neighborhood seems to be having this problem; perhaps the developers spread the weevils around when they graded the subdivision about 5 years ago.

    Thanks for the information.

    It hits a gardener where it hurts to lose the biggest agaves, when they’re so slow growing. I’m sorry to hear that your neighborhood has been affected, Diane. Good luck on stemming the damage. —Pam

  37. rob says:

    I just lost 7 large agave plants in my front yard, I live in AZ and these were the prize of my landscape, I had no idea as to the cause until I found your site. At least knowing has helped me feel better about it, but it is a tough loss, the biggest ones were almost 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide…

    That sounds like a huge loss, Rob. I’m sorry. —Pam

  38. Lost a yucca to Agave Snout Weevil. Yucca was declining for awhile. I ended up completely dissecting it to find the weevil larvae.

    I’m seeing stands of dead yuccas around San Antonio. I’m trying to make a website with some general info.

    I’m sorry to hear it, Linda, but not surprised. The snout-nosed agave weevil loves yuccas too. It’s good to spread the word. —Pam

  39. Chuck says:

    Hello – I’m from the top of 12 in Dripping. I started a small agave americana patch and many of the smaller ones have died in the manner in which you described. It looked like they just burned up at the base. I had a larger one that has been appearing to decline for the past few months. I thought it was the drought. I tried to pull of a dead leaf and the entire plant, about 18 inches tall came up. And then I saw it. One evil weevil. I’m going to try the method you suggested. I have about 50-75 agaves of about a dozen varieties. I surely don’t want to lose them. Eight of the tequila agaves I planted in front of my fence have been eaten by the weevils. I thought it was bad enough when the deer attack them in the winter. This poses a new challenge.

    Thanks for posting this great information.

    You’ve had some serious losses, Chuck. I hope you can stave off the attack. At the very least, you’ll discover which varieties are most resistant. Thanks for commenting, and good luck! —Pam

  40. […] about the loss of a favorite plant, Manfreda ‘Macho Mocha,’ also called mangave, to the agave snout-nosed weevil. I’d planted the mangave to show it off in a yellow-green glazed pot by the front door, but […]

  41. […] to attack by the agave snout-nosed weevil, which has recently become a nuisance in central Texas. I lost a ‘Macho Mocha’ mangave to the weevil in my old garden and have been on the lookout for it in the new garden. I’ve heard from […]

  42. June says:

    I have has two different people recommend Bayers for snout-nosed weevils but the instructions on the package do not refer to the weevil. Those directions call for mixing differnt concentrations based on the size of the tree or shrub you’re trying to protect and I’m wondering what the appropriate concentration is for agaves. I have everything from small (< 1ft high) to very large (many feet across and taller than me). What do folks here recommend?

    June

    I mix it as recommended, June, based on the height of the agave. So far so good. I will add, however, that Bayer no longer seems to be making the formula I recommend in this post. Now it comes with fertilizer mixed in, and I’m not sure how that will affect agaves, which prefer poor soil. It might be best to experiment with one that isn’t so dear to you. —Pam

  43. pandora pipiringos says:

    I have a business in Houston and bought two large yucca from Houston Garden Center for the front of the building in pots. One did very well, the other started to die and then I discovered the weevils. I bagged the plant and all the soil in the pot and threw it away. Should I treat the other yucca even though it is not showing any signs of weevils?

    It’s a hard call. The other yucca may not be infested, and if it is, it may be too late to save it even if you treat it. Also, I don’t recommend using this chemical treatment lightly. It’s dangerous stuff to get on you and to dispose of. On the other hand, if the yucca is a valuable plant, and if you take the proper precautions for your own safety and for disposal, then it may be the right decision. Weigh the options and decide what’s right for you. —Pam

  44. Joanie says:

    Has anyone experienced having these weevils enter their home? I have an infestation of these INSIDE my home. I am nearly certain they are Yucca Weevils. My neighbor over the fence has a large Yucca plant, and on my side of the fence a bush was in contact with the fence and then was touching the wall of my home. The Weevils were coming in the window on that side of the house — at least a hundred of them. I cut back the bush in my yard and hope this will solve the problem, at lease inside my home. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Joanie, I have no answers for you, but I know who you should ask: Wizzie Brown at Urban IPM. She’s an extension agent who knows all things bug-related. —Pam

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