Notches on leaf edges caused by leafcutter bees
By: Sandy Feather
is taking big bites out of edges of the leaves of my redbud tree. I
never see insects on the leaves, just the damage. Do you have any
idea what is causing this problem?
native pollinators are known as
(Megachile species). These insects take circular bites out of the
margins of the leaves of a number of plants, including redbud trees
(Cercis canadensis), roses, sugar maples (Acer saccharum) and even
vegetables such as sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum). They use the
pieces of leaves to line their egg cells.
Redbud in full blossom
Leafcutter bees are solitary bees that nest and rear their young
alone, unlike social bees such as honeybees. They build their
egg cells in hollowed-out twigs, soft and rotten wood, or
thick-stemmed pithy plants.
The damage they cause is strictly cosmetic and does not harm the
plant. They are not aggressive and pose no threat to you or your
family. Leafcutter bees are pollinators and should be considered
beneficial. No control measures are recommended. If you watch
the tree closely, you should be able to see them at work. They
clutch a piece of leaf with their legs, and fly off with it when
they chew it free.