Home General The Mango Seed Weevil: Your Mango’s Undercover Resident

The Mango Seed Weevil: Your Mango’s Undercover Resident

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Image: Infonet-biovision

Ever cracked your mango seed before, after eating the fruit? Those who do so sometimes meet with the startling sight of the mango seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae).

If unknown to anyone who is curious enough to be prying a mango seed open, the presence of this insect can be anything from a little unsettling to nauseating or skin-crawling, especially if the mango has been eaten.

Sometimes, the sight of the insides of the seed which can appear to be badly damaged, can also send a chill down your spine if your mango seed happens to be home to this weevil.

This sneaky insect which measures only 6 to 8 mm in length and about 4 mm across, is a widespread pest which is now common to many mango-growing regions in the world. Obviously, being able to live quietly and undetected inside a mango seed has helped it to get itself exported around the world.

Thankfully, this insect is not a very destructive pest and hardly damages mango fruits. Sometimes however, a mango seed weevil will damage the seed extensively, bore out of the mango and leave an exit on the fruit that starts to rot.

Image: Dept of Agric, Western Australia

But chances are that you’ve already eaten one mango (or several) that had this weevil inside its seed before. There’s often no visible damage. And that’s the camouflage that gets them undetected across boundaries.

All the same, the mango seed weevil is a pest and can be the difference in whether a country can export its mangoes easily to other countries that don’t have the weevils yet and those that have high and strict standards for such imports.

So how does this insect get inside a mango seed and live there? The mango seed weevil is usually hidden under loose bark, fallen fruit or other places, until the mango fruiting season. Their eggs are laid in very tiny cuts on unripe mango fruits before the fruits are half mature. The eggs hatch quickly in three to five days and the weevil’s larvae then tunnel their way into the seed where they hide, feed and mature. Unfortunately, the tiny tunnels drilled into the seed get closed by the mango fruit as the fruit matures and ripens. That’s how come a slice that avoids the hard seed won’t give away any signs that a weevil has made its way into the seed.

If we say that ignorance is bliss, then pretend you never heard of the mango seed weevil. Don’t stop eating mangoes; but try not to mind this harmless not-so-harmful insect.

Whatever happens, don’t go opening up mango seeds. Just don’t.

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