Not a Tick, I’m a Weevil

Yellow-poplar weevil outside my window, 25 June 2021 (photo by Kate St. John)

27 June 2021

It’s turning out to be a big year in Pittsburgh for a small black bug with a long snout. Perhaps you’ve seen one on your window or lawn furniture. Perhaps one has landed on you. Don’t worry. It’s not a tick. It’s a yellow-poplar weevil.

Yellow-poplar weevils (Odontopus calceatus) are vegetarians that feed on the leaves of tuliptrees (i.e. yellow-poplars), sassafras and cucumber magnolias.  The adults make small holes in the leaves. The larvae mine the midrib. They are harmless to humans and not even that bad for trees.

While these weevils do harm foliage they shouldn’t affect the overall health and longevity of established trees. They are often more of a nuisance than a serious problem and generally only create aesthetic harm.

Wikipedia: Yellow-poplar weevil

Yellow-poplar weevils usually hang out on plants and are kept in check by predators but in a “big year” there are so many adults that we notice them in late June and early July during their mating flight.

Billbug on black locust, Schenley Park, 8 June 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)
Yellow-poplar weevil on black locust, Schenley Park, 8 June 2018 (photo by Kate St. John)

One landed on me yesterday but I wasn’t worried. It’s not a tick. Ticks don’t fly and they have eight legs (like spiders) not six.

Yellow poplar weevil is not a tick (photo by Kate St. John)
Yellow poplar weevil is not a tick (photo by Kate St. John)

UPDATE, 28 June: The weevils can fly at night. At 4am I briefly opened a window without a screen and later found a couple of weevils indoors.

UPDATE, 1 July: Today the weevils were flying and landing everywhere at Heinz Chapel steps.

TICK WARNING: 2021 is also a big year for black-legged ticks in the Pittsburgh area, the ticks that transmit Lyme disease.

Lyme disease has been an epidemic here since 2018 but many people don’t realize the dangers. Sometimes a Lyme test comes back negative so the symptoms of fatigue, aches, persistent fever and a body rash are mistreated for weeks until Lyme is finally diagnosed.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Spray your clothes and right after you spend time outdoors be sure to check yourself for ticks especially in your hair, behind your ears, etc. Here’s a very tiny tick Bob Mulvihill found on 18 June. They’re out there!

(photos by Kate St. John, embedded Facebook photo by Robert Mulvihill)

4 thoughts on “Not a Tick, I’m a Weevil

  1. what do you spray with Kate? i thought I saw one on my nephew’s forehead the other day, but he brushed it off before I could get to it. I’m in Toronto. does the spray actually work?

  2. I assured my sister that it was a weevil not a tick, We both got ticked and I got the bullet rash.

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