According to an Entomologist
entomologist Dr. Paul Weston from Cornell University, viburnum
leaf beetles are only known to infest plants in the Viburnum
genus. The good news is that some species of viburnums are more
susceptible to attack than others. The bad news is that most of
our native viburnums are highly or moderately susceptible to
of susceptible species includes arrowwood (V. dentatum);
European cranberrybush viburnum (V. opulus); Rafinesque viburnum
(V. rafinesquianum); Sargent viburnum (V. sargentii); and
American cranberrybush viburnum (V. trilobum). Left untreated,
viburnum leaf beetles can kill susceptible species in two or
three years by repeatedly defoliating them.
Weston also lists moderately susceptible species, including mapleleaf viburnum (V. acerifolium); linden viburnum (V.
dilatatum); wayfaring tree (V. lantana); nannyberry (V. lentago);
doublefile viburnum (V. plicatum x tomentosum); Prague viburnum
(V. x pragense); blackhaw viburnum (V. prunifolium); and Wright
viburnum (V. wrightii). Although the beetles feed on these
species, the plants seem to survive even when attacked by large
populations of this pest.
Finally, Weston lists species that are resistant to Viburnum
leaf beetle. They include Burkwood viburnum (V. x burkwoodii);
fragrant viburnum (V. x carlcephalum); Koreanspice viburnum (V.
carlesii); Judd viburnum (V. x juddii); lantanaphyllum viburnum
(V. x rhytidophylloides); leatherleaf viburnum (V.
rhytidophyllum); tea viburnum (V. setigerum) and Siebold
viburnum (V. sieboldii). Species with thicker leaves and Koreanspice viburnum parentage seem most resistant to the
The fragrant Judd Viburnum is resistant
Adult viburnum leaf beetles are very small (4.5 to 6.5 mm long),
roughly the size of a matchstick head. They are yellowish-brown
to light brown in color. They resemble their close relatives,
the elm leaf beetle, but are smaller and less brightly colored.
Young larvae are off-white to greenish-yellow. Mature larvae
develop uniform black spots on their bodies. Viburnum leaf
beetles overwinter as eggs laid in the twigs of host plants.
Larvae hatch in May and feed voraciously on the underside of the
newly expanding leaves.
'Lacey-like' Leaf Damage
They skeletonize the foliage, leaving
only the midrib and major veins intact. Mature larvae drop to
the ground to pupate early to mid-June. Adults emerge mid- to
late July and resume feeding on viburnum foliage. Plants often
put on a second of flush of growth to compensate for the foliage
destroyed by the larvae, only to have it devoured by the adults.
Adults feed, mate and lay eggs until the first frost. Adult
females chew holes in small branches and twigs to create
cavities where she lays her eggs. Afterwards, she seals the
cavities with a mixture of excrement, chewed bark and bits of
shredded wood to protect the eggs and maintain a humid
environment to ensure their survival.
Control options include pruning infested twigs after egg-laying
is finished in the fall, from October through March. Burn
infested twigs to avoid moving this pest into new areas. Hand
destruction of larvae and adults can provide effective control
in small plantings, but would be impractical with large ones.
Insecticides labeled to control Viburnum leaf beetles in
Pennsylvania include: horticultural oil (larvae only), BioNeem (azadirachtin),
Bayer Advanced Garden Dual Action Rose & Flower Insect Killer (cyfluthrin
and imidacloprid), Bayer Advanced Garden Tree & Shrub Insect
Control (imidacloprid), and pyrethrins & piperonyl butoxide.
Garden insect photos