SIZE: One-sixth of an inch.
COLOR: Brownish in color; some specimens may appear greenish brown in color.
BEHAVIOR: Cowpea weevils are comprised of several species and are more common in the southern United States. The life cycle is similar to that of bean weevils. Like bean weevils, the cowpea weevil is an internal feeder. The female deposits her eggs on the outside of the bean. The larvae bore into the bean and several larvae infest the same bean. Upon maturity, the larvae pupate near the surface of the bean and then emerge from the bean leaving numerous holes in the bean. Huge populations can quickly develop especially under ideal conditions of 90 degrees Fahrenheit and percent humidity. The first indication of an infestation is often the presence of numerous flying weevils. Usually, the infested bag, box or storage bin of cowpeas or other beans is so infested that weevils are forced to leave the container in search of fresh beans on which to lay their eggs. Cowpea weevils “play dead” when disturbed and may take up to five minutes to resume movement.
These weevils develop best in cowpeas (black-eyed peas) but may develop in a few other types of beans, such as chickpeas and lentil beans. They do not, however, infest other types of stored foods such as cereals or whole grains.
The control of any stored product pest involves many steps, primary of which is discovery of infested food items or other sources of infestation (e.g., food spillage accumulation). When cowpea weevils are present, all items containing or made of cowpeas or other whole beans need to be examined. Also consider the following to prevent an infestation:
Discard infested cowpeas/beans in outdoor trash.
Freeze any suspect items at zero degrees Fahrenheit for six days.
Clean cabinets and shelves where infested cowpeas/beans are stored by vacuuming and using soap and water.
Store all dried cowpeas/beans should be stored in a glass or plastic container with a tight lid. This will at least keep a potential infestation contained.