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Early nut development as a resistance factor to the attacks of Curculio nucum (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)


L. Tavella, Di.Va.P.R.A. Entomologia e Zoologia applicate all’Ambiente ‘Carlo Vidano’, University of Torino, via L. da Vinci 44, 10095 Grugliasco (TO), Italy.


The nut weevil Curculio nucum (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) is responsible for high yield losses in several hazelnut-growing areas of Europe and Turkey, if not regularly controlled using pesticides. The resistance of hazelnut varieties to the nut weevil is known but poorly investigated so far. Thus a 2-year study was carried out to investigate factors affecting C. nucum attacks on two cultivars [Tonda Gentile delle Langhe (TGL), Ennis] and four selections (Daria, 101, B6, L35) in a 15-year-old orchard of northwestern Italy. Nut developmental stages and shell characteristics, such as hardness and thickness, were measured and correlated to the biological cycle of the nut weevil and to the damage by its larvae. During the 2-year sampling, nut weevil adults were collected on all cultivars and selections, but in greater quantities on TGL and Daria, and in lower quantities on 101 and B6. In 2005, by female dissection, mature eggs were observed from late June, when the mean temperature exceeded 18°C. Differences between cultivars and selections were found in nut and kernel development, and in shell hardening; in particular, the kernel development was directly related with the shell hardness. At harvest, the damage varied on average from 2.57% in cultivar TGL to 51.84% in selection 101 of total nuts harvested, so independently of the numbers of the collected weevil adults. These two varieties were the earliest and the latest in kernel development and shell hardening, respectively. Therefore, the susceptibility to nut weevil attacks was strictly related to shell hardening; in fact, a rapid hardening of the shell can hamper the oviposition of C. nucum females. By contrast, no correlation was found between shell thickness and damage at harvest.