Date of Award
Anthonomus eugenii, the pepper weevil is an important pest of cultivated pepper plants (Capsicum spp.). The weevil is originally from Mexico, but it is present in Central America, the Caribbean, and southern United States. Additionally, it was present and eradicated in the Netherlands, Italy, and western Canada in British Columbia. However, sporadic outbreaks occur during the pepper growing season in southern Ontario, which has prompted further investigation of its biology and management. My dissertation investigates the genetics, physiology and ecology of the pepper weevil and its implications for prevention, management, and potential establishment in southern Ontario. I investigated pepper weevil host plant suitability in alternate host plants and the preference between cultivated pepper plants. I found that alternative host plants enhance pepper weevil fitness by decreasing development time, and although no support for preference among cultivars tested was found, pepper weevil development is compromised in high capsaicin-containing cultivars at early weevil life stages. I described the genetic diversity of the pepper weevil comparing populations from native and non-native ranges, and pathways of entrance into Canada. The results confirm the seasonal presence of the insect in southern Ontario as a consequence of pepper importation from regions where the pepper weevil is prominent. I compared cold-acclimated and non-acclimated pepper weevil populations and tested insect survival under winter outdoor conditions. The pepper weevil is a chill-susceptible species with a poor ability to tolerate sub-zero temperatures during temperate winters. However, recommendations are given for pepper weevil management in greenhouse environments, in which microclimatic temperatures do not decrease to below 0°C during winter. Ultimately, my research provides valuable new information on the physiology, ecology, and genetics of the pepper weevil that is relevant to managing this economically important insect pest in pepper producing areas worldwide.
Fernandez, Diana Catalina, "An Integrated Approach to Understanding Anthonomus eugenii Cano (Coleoptera: Curculionidae): An Exotic Pest of Greenhouse and Field Pepper Crops" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 8781.