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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - October 08, 2009

From: Peterborough, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Pests, Shrubs
Title: Viburnum insect damage
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I have a highbush cranberry that gets covered in 1/4in black bugs every spring. It makes lots of holes in the leaves. What are they and how can I get rid of this insect.I have tried neem oil but it doesn't work great?

ANSWER:

It is likely that your problem is due to the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. It was was introduced from Europe and was first discovered in North America in the Ottawa/Hull area on the European Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum opulus.  It has since moved into the native viburnum population and can kill a plant after a few successive years of defoliation.

You don't mention how mature your plant is or for how many years you have been experiencing the problem.  Is it possible that your plant is actually not the native?  I lived near Ottawa for a few years and was conscious of the fact that one very large "snowball bush" had a problem every spring but the natives which were growing out in the fields and forest edges did not. Since then I have noticed that young plants are more susceptible and perhaps mistakenly assumed that the non-native had been subsitituted for the native.  If your plant is mature and it never berried, you can assume that it is the European plant.

You will find the following links helpful: The Cornell Univeristy Entemology website has information about the pest (and pohtos)  and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station website has a list of relative susceptibility of different viburnums.

 

 

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