Agriculture: Strawberry Pest Management Guidelines

Root Beetles

  • Black vine weevil: Otiorhynchus sulcatus
  • Cribrate weevil: Otiorhynchus cribricollis
  • Fuller rose weevil: Pantomorus cervinus
  • Hoplia beetle: Hoplia dispar, H. callipyge
  • Woods weevil: Nemocestes incomptus
  • Description of the Pest

    Root beetles are occasional problems on California strawberries primarily in nonfumigated and/or second-year plantings in the San Joaquin Valley. They feed at night and hide around the crowns of plants during the day and, with the exception of adult hoplia beetles, they cannot fly. The adults, nearly all females, emerge in late spring or summer, feed on strawberry foliage, and lay their eggs around the crowns about 1 month after emergence. After hatching, the larvae work their way into the soil and feed on strawberry roots and crowns through the fall.

    Root weevil larvae have curved, white or pink bodies that are about 0.38 inch (9.7 mm) long when fully grown. They have distinct brown heads and no legs. In spring, they resume feeding and can cause extensive damage before they pupate. Root weevils have a single generation each year.

    The Fuller rose beetle, also called Fuller rose weevil, can be distinguished from the other weevils by an oblique, white band on the side of each wing cover. In addition, their larvae have pale, almost white heads. The black vine weevil is the largest and has a distinct black color. The woods weevil is the smallest of the group.

    Hoplia are scarab beetles that are brown and 0.40 inches (10 mm) long. They are primarily a problem in San Joaquin Valley plantations that have not been fumigated. In the San Joaquin Valley, adults emerge in mid-April and are active for about 1 month. They are attracted to strawberry flowers and fruits, where they feed on petals and young, green fruit. Eggs are laid on the soil or on strawberry crowns; the resulting larvae enter the soil to feed on roots and are found associated with the roots from fall through spring. The larvae are 0.45 inches (11 mm) long and characteristically C-shaped. They feed for 2 years before pupating.


    Larvae of all of these beetles feed on the roots of strawberry plants and can completely devour small rootlets and destroy the bark and cortex of larger roots. Soon after feeding begins, plants wilt because the roots can no longer provide moisture for leaves. Hoplia larvae will severely stunt and eventually kill infested plants. It is not uncommon to find beetle larvae that have penetrated into the lower portion of the plant's crown.

    Adult weevils feed on foliage and remove large scallops from the leaves. Such leaf damage is a good indication that weevils are present but is not economically damaging to the plants. Adult hoplia beetles feed on flower petals, but it is not known if their feeding injures young fruit.


    The rapid removal of plantings following harvest and preplant fumigation destroy beetle larvae and pupae in the soil. Soil solarization may be effective for hoplia beetles in the Central Valley. The use of sudangrass as a cover crop may serve to increase beetle numbers in the field.

    Biological Control

    Parasitic nematodes that target immature insects in the soil are available commercially. However, preliminary research did not show success using them for control of beetle larvae infesting strawberry roots.

    Cultural Control

    Annual plantings reduce the likelihood of high numbers of beetles building up in fields. Rotating to a nonhost crop (such as lettuce or cole crops) will further reduce beetle numbers in the soil.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Use cultural controls, especially annual plantings, soil solarization for hoplia beetles, and crop rotation on organically certified strawberries.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    Even one hoplia grub in the crown or roots will cause significant damage. If plants wilt or appear stunted or reddish, larvae may be present. Examine roots to determine if root weevil larvae are present, because cold temperatures can also induce reddening. Dig several plants and look for C-shaped grubs in the crown or roots.

    Soil fumigation for weed and disease control will destroy larvae and pupae in the soil, and root weevils and hoplia beetle do not appear to become problems in fumigated fields. In nonfumigated fields, chemigation can be effective.

    Common name Amount per acre REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
    Note: Fumigants such as 1,3-dichloropropene, chloropicrin, and metam products are a source of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) but minimally reactive with other air contaminants that form ozone.
      First, apply one of the following:
      (Telone C35) Label rates See label 0
      (InLine) 28–33 gal (drip) See label 0
      COMMENTS: Effective for control of nematodes, soilborne fungal pathogens, and insects. InLine requires a plastic tarp. Use higher rates or impermeable films to improve weed and nematode control. One gallon of product weighs 11.2 lb.
      . . . or . . .
      (Telone II) 9–12 gal (shank) See label 0
      COMMENTS: Liquid that diffuses as a gas through soil. Effective against nematodes and insects. Rates vary with soil texture and efficacy strongly affected by soil moisture and temperature. One gallon of product weighs 10.1 lb.
      . . . or . . .
      (Tri-Clor EC) Label rates See label 0
      COMMENTS: A liquid that diffuses as a gas through soil. Very effective for control of soilborne fungal pathogens and insects. Drip irrigation requires an emulsifier. For shank fumigation, use higher rates or impermeable films to improve weed and nematode control. For drip fumigation, the use of TIF will improve both nematode and weed control. Tri-Clor: One gallon of product weighs 13.88 lb; Tri-Clor EC: One gallon of product weighs 13.46 lb.

      Then, 5 to 7 days later apply one of the following:
      (Vapam HL, Sectagon 42) 37.5–75 gal See label 0
      COMMENTS: Water-soluble liquid that decomposes to a gaseous fumigant (methyl isothiocyanate). Efficacy affected by soil texture, moisture, temperature, and percent organic matter. One gallon of product contains 4.26 lb of metam sodium.
      (K-Pam HL) 30–60 gal See label 0
      COMMENTS: Water-soluble liquid that decomposes to a gaseous fumigant (methyl isothiocyanate). Efficacy affected by soil texture, moisture, temperature, and percent organic matter. One gallon of product contains 5.8 lb of metam potassium.
      (Diazinon 50W) Label rates 72 (3 days) 5
      COMMENTS: Liquid diazinon applied through the drip irrigation system can be fairly effective, and a second application can give almost 100% control. Highly toxic to bees.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases, the REI exceeds the PHI. The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    1 Rotate insecticides with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; insecticides with a 1B group number should be alternated with insecticides that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers for insecticides and miticides (un=unknown or uncertain mode of action) are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    § Do not exceed the maximum rates allowed under the California Code of Regulations Restricted Materials Use Requirements, which may be lower than maximum label rates.
    Text Updated: 07/18
    Treatment Table Updated: 07/18