Pests & Diseases of Agaves

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Rabbits and other rodents may eat fleshy leaves or into the starchy core of a plant. These pests can be excluded by wire mesh fencing, which should be partially buried in the ground to discourage burrowing.

The main pest is Agave Snout Weevil Scyphophorus acupunctatus, a glossy black beetle-like insect with a pointed snout, typically seen in late Spring and early Summer. The adult insects feed on sap from the leaves and may introduce harmful bacteria. However, the real damage is done by their larvae which infest the starchy core and roots of a mature plant leading to wilting leaves and collapse of the plant. The female weevil lays eggs on the base of lower leaves of a plant that is ready to bloom. The consequences for an Agave monoculture, such as for the production of Tequila, can be devastating. It is unlikely that this particular species of weevil will occur outside the native range of Agaves, but other types of bugs can sometimes be seen feeding on leaves (left). Although Agave Snout Weevil prefer the broader-leaved Agaves, any genera within the Agavaceae e.g. Beschorneria are at risk.

Any snout weevils seen around a plant should be killed and a systemic insecticide applied. Prophylactic treatment with a systemic insecticide of an Agave collection within the native range of the weevil, may be advisable. Obviously this is impractical if any part of the plant is to be consumed or fermented.
Once a plant has collapsed, it is too late for treatment. The infected plant should be removed and burned, along with any grubs that can be found. Watering nearby plants with a systemic inecticide may help to control the pest.
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