What’s Eating Our Viburnums?

Viburnum leaf almost totally skeltonized by the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. (photo by L. Lanphear)

Many homeowners have been surprised this season to find viburnums in their yards to look much like the pictures in this posting. We have observed this problem in numerous landscapes. This is the result of a relatively new pest to northeast Ohio, the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. Early feeding damage appears as holes in leaves. Gradually, more and more of the leaf is eaten away until only veins remain – this type of damage is referred to as “skeletonization.”

Early stage of Viburnum Leaf Beetle feeding damage, when there is still a fair amount of green leaf tissue remaining. (photo by L. Lanphear)

The viburnum leaf beetle (VLB), Pyrrhalta viburni (Paykull), is native to most of Europe, and wasn’t found in northeast Ohio until 2002. Left untreated, it can cause severe damage and possibly death of ornamental viburnums. We recommend an annual fall soil injection application of imidacloprid (Merit). Treatments are done in Sept for control the following year. Click here to read more about this new and devastating pest.


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