Monday, September 10, 2012

This Bug really STINKS!

We have a new player in the forest: Viburnum Leaf Beetle.  If you have native or ornamental viburnums on your property, this bad boy is coming for you. 

 Another day, another invasive- it could really get an environmentalist down.  There seems to be no end to the foreign assaults on our forest and flora of America.  But in the name of patriotism, let's arm ourselves with education.

Leaf damage of the Viburnum Beetle
On a recent field trip to Singer Lake Bog, we saw many viburnum riddled by this invasive insect.  The beetles have hatched out and are feeding.  While I did not find any larva or beetles to photograph for you, the damage was evident.  Several times I commented,  "What is that stench?"  

Apparently these beetles have a distinctive smell.  (Think Multi-colored Asian Lady Bugs: have you ever smelled them?) Not everyone noticed it, but I believe some of us could "sniff" our way to infestation in the forest!  

 Our leaders told of the recent defoliation of the viburnum in Northeast Ohio, and how it weakens the plant each subsequent year.  After three to four years of defoliation, the plant dies.  My questions were, "What are we doing to identify them?"  and  "What are we doing to protect the Viburnum?"

We didn't seem to have the answers to that- so far... most are watching the viburnums die. The sad truth is: most folks attuned to ecology are hesitant to pull out the blazing guns of chemicals.  We are wary of the "collateral damage" we have seen in the past on our good and beneficial insects when predator species are set lose (think: Gypsum moth predators killing our Silk Moth larva.)

Viburnum Leaf Beetle larva being eaten by an orange and black Lady Beetle larva, Photo Courtesy of Cornell's Website
 So I have been reading on this pest and the simple things we can do to put a hurt on them.  Follow that link to Cornell and let's start rounding these stinking beetles up!  Watch for egg laying damage on viburnums.  If we remove eggs masses in the fall- it is a good start.  Next we bring out the lady bugs.  Lord knows, we already have them, so lets hope they develop a taste for Viburnum beetles.  Click on that link above to educate yourself on this pest.  Forewarned is forearmed.   GO CORNELL!!!

Let's embrace the pro-active options, verses the OSU attitudes of  "...Ohio's nursery industry is the nation's fifth largest. Quarantines imposed, as a result of establishment of VLB in Ohio, would represent an economic burden to the many growers who export nursery stock from Ohio."  

Follow this link to read it yourself:   There is some good info on the OSU page, but I really prefer Cornell's take.  Proactive, hands on and low chemical usage.  Print that Cornell page and pass it around to your friends.

Judy Semroc and Larry Rosche of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Thank you to Judy and Larry for leading this fine field trip as part of the CMNH program on tree conservation.  It was an excellent opportunity to educate myself, and every field trip with Judy and Larry is an education.  Stay posted for more info from the actual conference.


  1. Oh no....not another invasive. I've been adding native viburnums to my yard over the years for the birds, so I have quite a few. I'll head over to the Cornell site to learn more.

  2. Yes, I had heard stories of this leaf beetle, mostly hand wringing and death. Now, Cornell has given us some simple logical step to take to fight back;we need to spread the good word!
    Thanks- 'Picker