Plant Pest Alert: Viburnum Leaf Beetle

Jun. 18th, 2018 by W Scott McAdam Jr.

Until three years ago, the viburnum leaf beetle was virtually non-existent in the Chicago area. But today, it has become a household name—and for all the wrong reasons. Even if you are unaware of this tiny beetle, chances are you have seen the havoc that has resulted from their aggressive feeding habits, primarily on Arrowwood viburnum.    

The beetle, brown and about one-quarter inch in length, has larvae that emerge from eggs laid in the stems and begin their feeding frenzy.  Damage can be significant because there are multiple generations of new larvae throughout the growing season, with both adults and larvae feeding on the leaves and creating a season-long feeding cycle for continued damage. 

What to look for: the “skeletonizing” of the leaves or eating the tissues between the leaf veins. Heavy feeding of susceptible species can virtually defoliate the entire plant in rapid fashion. The most highly susceptible species are Arrowwood, American Cranberry Bush, and European Cranberry Bush viburnum. 

Think your plants are suffering? Give us a call, and we will put you on the path toward proper treatment.

This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" was published in the June 13, 2018 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.