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Controlling the sweet potato weevil

GIS:-The Ministry of Agriculture Hosts Information Sessions on How to Reduce Weevil Populations.

The Ministry of Agriculture has embarked on an islandwide drive to heighten awareness to the

sweet potato weevil

sweet potato weevil.

Crop Protection Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donald Joseph, said although the pests have been present in Saint Lucia for many years, the occurrence of many farmers moving away from traditional banana farming into the farming of crops has called for the ministry to be proactive in increasing awareness of the weevil and the damage that the bug can do if not controlled.

“It is an insect that has a complete life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. It takes about 33 days to complete its life cycle from egg to adult. Presently in Saint Lucia we have two species of the sweet potato weevil you have the Cylas formicarius which is more wide spread and you also have the West Indian Sweet Potato Weevil.

“An adult female can lay about 250 eggs in its lifetime and the most important stages of these pests are the larva stage and the adult stage. The adult usually feeds on the leaves and stems and sometimes the roots, but it is the larvae that causes the most damage in that it feeds on the tubas.”

Winston Elliot, Agricultural Officer within the Ministry of Agriculture added that it would be hard to extinguish the species, however measures have been taken to educate individuals on how best to control the pest.

“Eradication of the pest will be extremely difficult, so what we are trying to do is to implement controlled measures, which is why we have collaborated with the extension division and are working with farmers islandwide.”

The ministry has held group meetings with practical sessions demonstrating planting methods and the varied measures of control. Mr. Elliot said controlling the pest can result in vast reductions of the pest population.

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