What to Watch For: Strawberry Clippers

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What to watch for” is a feature that I developed at my blog, NC Small Fruit & Specialty Crops IPM, and as I start to cross post more information between there and the NC Extension Portals, I am bringing it over here! Strawberry clipper questions have begun to come in this week. I’ve posted a lot of information on clippers in the past which is worth reviewing again this year.

Strawberry clipper damaged bugs. Photo: HJB

What are strawberry clippers?

Strawberry clippers are small weevils (snout nosed beetles) that lay their eggs in developing flower buds in strawberries, caneberries (blackberries & raspberries), red buds and other spring flowering plants.

Will strawberry clippers damage my plants?

Strawberry clippers are not present in all strawberry fields. They are most common in fields with wooded edges, where they spend the summer and the winter. While they can fly, they are not great dispersers, and damage is worse in rows bordering the woods and decreases as you move inward. Strawberry clipper activity has recently begun in NC strawberries, and typically only lasts for a few weeks. In addition to patchy clipper distribution in the state and even in affected fields, strawberries have been demonstrated to compensate for clipper damage, at least in matted row plantings. We know less about how clippers affect annual strawberries, but I have observed even heavily clipped fields produce large crops.

How can I manage strawberry clippers?

Although we are not sure about the impact of clippers on strawberries in NC, growers often feel that populations are large enough to necessitate treatment. Growers should consult their county extension agent for recommended management tools, which are also described in the NC Agriculatural Chemicals Manual. I often don’t recommend agressive managment for strawberry clippers because the materials that are effective against them are broad spectrum insecticides that can also be detrimental to bees. If any pesticide (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide, or others) are applied to plants during bloom, care should be taken to avoid bee exposure. This can be done by treating at dusk or dark, when bees are not foraging, to allow to maximum dry time and by waiting to treat plants until after bloom is complete. The latter is not an option for strawberries but can be employed for some caneberries and crops like blueberries. Care should also be taken to select the least toxic material to bees that is still effective against the target pest. Unfortunately for clippers, there are not a lot of good alternatives (see the NC Ag Chem Manual for options).

More information

Strawberry culivars compesate for simulated bud weevil damage in matted row plantings – HortScience

Strawberry clipper posts – NC Small Fruit & Specialty Crop IPM