Pea weevil larvae live inside peas. They chew their way out of the pea when they mature, leaving a large hole. Weevils could harm our pea industry and your homegrown peas.
About the pea weevil
The pea weevil only eats peas (Pisum sativum and other Pisum species). The pea weevil is originally from the Middle East, Southern Europe, and South-East Asia. It has now spread to:
- all of Europe
- Asia (including Japan)
- North Africa
- North, Central, and South America
- south-western Australia.
When the adult weevil emerges from the pea, it needs to find growing plants to lay its eggs. When the eggs hatch, the larvae chew their way into peas and spend the summer living in them.
Pea weevils were found in the lower North Island in 2016. We successfully eradicated them in February 2020.
Global distribution of pea weevil
Why this insect must be kept out of New Zealand
Peas are an important crop for our economy. Sales in New Zealand earn $50 million a year and exported peas earn $80 million a year. International demand for peas increases by 12% every year.
If someone found a single pea weevil in a shipment to an export country, the entire lot could be rejected. Where there is a heavy infestation of pea weevils, it can reduce the yield of pea crops by 15%.
How could it get here?
Any pea – fresh or dried – could carry pea weevils or their eggs. Weevils can survive up to 2 years in stored seeds. It's nearly impossible to see if there are weevils in a pea, until the adult emerges.
Where could I find it?
The pea weevil only lives in peas.
If you receive pea seeds from overseas, you may find live weevils emerging from the pea seed.
If you grow peas, you are more likely to see the hole in the pea than the insect itself.
How to identify pea weevils
The pea weevil:
- grows to between 3mm and 7mm long
- is round-shaped
- is coloured brown and mottled
- has hard wing covers (elytra) that don't reach the tip of the weevil
- has little black and white hairs covering the end of the abdomen (body) .
The larvae are white and grub-like. They look like most other insect larvae. Call MPI if you find larvae living inside a pea.
What to do
If you think you've found a pea weevil or infested pea:
Find out more
Note: This information is a summary of the pea weevil's global distribution and potential impacts to New Zealand.