Cycad Hosts a Party

Weevils mate on cones of Zamia

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cycad weevils, Rhopalotria mollis, were carrying on the circle of life on a Zamia furfuraceae next to my driveway today and I caught them in the act! They mate and lay eggs in the male cones, and carry pollen with them to the female cones. The male cones are rich in starch (female cones are not), and the weevils feed here, according to a paper by the late Knut Norstog and Priscilla Fawcett, who both worked at Fairchild in the late 1980s. All stages of the weevil develop inside the male cone, and adults emerge from top.

I broke apart one of the spent cones, and sure enough, newly hatched and about to hatch weevils were there. 

The weevils are perhaps 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch long and reddish brown. Their eyes are black and snouts are dark.  I can't tell you now many times I have passed that cycad and not noticed it, but I recently pruned away some of the leaves that were protruding into the drive, making the cones visible. One of nature's little wonders on display.