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Reader Question: What's Eating My Hollyhocks?

By June 26, 2012

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It's that time of year again. I've gotten several questions over the last couple of weeks about lacy, chewed hollyhock foliage. Welcome to hollyhock weevil season, my friends.

hollyhock weevilsHollyhock weevils are tiny (about 1/8 inch) armadillo-looking little beetle-like creatures. Both the male and female have elongated "snouts," but the female's is longer, because she uses it to chew her way into hollyhock flower buds so she can lay her eggs there. I hate, repeat, hate hollyhock weevils. They defoliate hollyhocks, and harm the blooms and developing seeds. They're prolific (if you have a weevil problem, and take a few minutes to observe them, chances are that you'll catch them, um...getting friendly with one another). Amorous creatures, those hollyhock weevils.

The real problem, besides all of the damage they cause, is that they are fairly difficult to get rid of. Insecticidal soap works, but you have to apply it frequently, because the little so and sos just keep reproducing. You can also try shaking them off the plant and onto a piece of paper or plastic, then throw them away. If you're patient (and have good eyesight) handpicking and throwing them into soapy water also works. If you're noticing a large infestation, it's a good idea to cut off and throw away the flower buds -- there's likely a whole new generation of weevils in them, just waiting to hatch and start the cycle of damage all over again.

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