Story Behind the Science
The Curculionidae superfamily is reffered to as the family of "true weevils." There are other beetles from families outside of Curculionidae that are also called weevils, but they are not closely related, nor are they considered "true weevils." Weevils are most noted for being pests, both to foods and to humans. These beetles often focus on consuming a specific plant or crop, which has destructive effects on agricultural production. Some weevils are also considered pests once they become home invaders, usually in large numbers.
The weevil family is a very large group of beetles, usually visibly distinguishable from others due to their elongated snouts and stout bodies. Weevils are usually dull-colored brown or gray, though they can also be red, green or black in color.
Weevils are not considered a threatened species, though they are considered somewhat of a threat to humans. Not because they are physically or medically dangerous, but because they are known to be pests that invade homes and destroy plants. All weevils feed on plants, and some are beneficial to the growth of crops because they consume weeds, but others are thought of as pests because their main source of food is crops cultivated for human consumption.
One specific example of destructive weevils is the boll weevil, which is found in various parts of the U.S. The boll weevil migrated into Texas and the southern states of the U.S. in the late 1800s and early 1900s, causing dramatic negative effects to American cotton production. The larvae would feed on squares and bolls of cotton, negatively impacting its agricultural production.
Weevils’ effects on crops can be destructive and very expensive, especially when considering those that also feed on stored grains and seeds. Some of these destructive weevils include the rice weevil and granary weevil.
For more great facts on weevils and how to identify and control infestations, check out Orkin pest control's Web page dedicated to weevils.
Did You Know?
- The flour weevil, which feeds on flour and other stored food products, is not actually a true weevil. Rather than being a weevil, these are red flour beetles (or confused flour beetles).Learn More »
- There are approximately 2,500 species of weevils in the U.S. alone, while there are 40,000 worldwide.Learn More »
- The oldest beetle fossils are from about 265 million years ago.Learn More »
- Dung beetles are helpful to humans because they not only get rid of dung (by eating it), but they clean the environment, control the spread of diseases and make soil healthier by adding nutrients.Learn More »
- There are a greater number of known beetle species than any other group of organisms.Learn More »
|Compare & Contrast||Weevils||Beetles|
|How many species?||40,000||More than 350,000|
|Where do they occur?||Most weevils can be found in fields, gardens or orchards worldwide.||Beetles are most abundant in tropical areas but can be found throughout the rest of the world. They live anywhere from rainforests to deserts and even in water.|
|What do they eat?||Weevil adults and larvae are considered herbivores, so they eat different parts of many types of plants, such as the bark, wood, roots and leaves.||Most species of beetles eat plants, but others eat small insects and worms, fungi or organic matter (like dung).|
|Do they have predators?||Birds, spiders, scorpions and small mammals like squirrels and moles||Birds, lizards, toads, snakes, deer, raccoons, skunks and other animals|