A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Viburnum Leaf Beetle, a devastating insect that just recently ventured into Ohio from neighboring states and Canada. This year is the first time it has been a problem in Trumbull County, at least in my garden in Trumbull County, and I felt it was important to notify readers.
At the time of my first mention of this nasty bug, there wasn't much written about it locally. Most of my research took me to websites from other states and Canada, including Cornell University in New York, as well as factsheets from Master Gardener websites in British Columbia and Washington state. Even our own Ohio State University Ohioline factsheet bulletin about this insect is outdated and states the insect, as of that writing, was only found so far in one county in Ohio, Ashtabula.
I made a call to the author of that paper and OSU extension educator in Allen County, Curtis E. Young, to ask about the Viburnum Leaf Beetle. He told me he wasn't surprised the pest had ventured into Trumbull County since the factsheet was written. After all, it was only a matter of time before this foreign insect, native to Europe and probably a hitchhiker on a shipment of plants to North America, began migrating to other parts of Ohio.
What surprises me is that there hasn't been much outcry over this pest.
Perhaps I am a little more touchy about it because my own plant was affected. Yet in speaking with gardening friends, they too have had encounters with the pest. One friend recently told me she had to cut down her 10-year old viburnum because it was infested.
I am appalled. Where were the warnings? After all, we have been inundated with reports on the dreaded Emerald Ash Borer, an insect that just due to its presence in surrounding counties has prompted the Ohio Department of Agriculture to quarantine Trumbull County even though so far no evidence the insect is here has been presented. This means it is illegal to transport ash trees, logs branches, wood chips and bark, or any hardwood firewood out of quarantined areas.
If you've notice any of the large purple boxes hanging from trees along highways, you may wonder what that's all about. Because the ash borer, native to Asia, was virtually unknown in Ohio prior to 2003, there was no current research on the insect. Learning about this pest had to start from scratch. Extensive programs were created to warn commercial growers and homeowners of the insect, including the quarantine program to try to slow down its migration to other areas. It was discovered the ash borer was attracted to the color purple, so purple traps were hung all around to see if they can catch a few in our own backyards. So far, they haven't.
If you Google Emerald Ash Borer, you will be inundated with information about the pest, including links to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, images of the adult beetle and the damage it causes to trees.
If you Google Viburnum Leaf Beetles, you'll find lots of information too, but except for the outdated article from OSU everything else is from neighboring states, such as New York and Pennsylvania.
The Citizen Science department of Cornell University shouts out to people to let them know if the insect is spotted in their areas. There even is a ''team'' that calls themselves The Viburnum Leaf Beetle Project, from its department of horticulture and entomology.
A bit of research here in Ohio has revealed an explosion of the beetle in northeast Ohio was noted in 2005, according to the Buckeye Yard and Garden Online newsletter. According to that article, the costs to homeowners, parks, arboretums, municipalities and nurseries to manage heavy infestations and to replace killed plants could be high. While the BYGL is widely known among OSU extension educators and Master Gardeners throughout Ohio, it isn't well known to the public. You can read issues of the newsletter at www.bygl.osu.edu.
The latest information I can find while searching the BYGL archives is a mention in 2006 that the beetle, first found in Ashtabula County, was now also in Lake, Mahoning, Summit, Loraine and Medina. Searches did not reveal any current information about the pest.
Calls to local nurseries indicate that some customers have sought out advice on combating the beetle. Recommendations are to use a systemic pesticide on your plant to control the insect, which Cornell University also recommends.
In my first column about the insect, I stated the adult beetles would emerge around the first week of July to complete the defoliation that the larvae started in early spring. I was passing on that information, which I found on the Cornell and other websites. I was wrong. Last week, two weeks before they were supposed to show up and before I had a chance to blink, the adult beetles attacked my plant, which was just beginning to recover from damage of the larvae infestation. It was too late for pesticides, even if I had wanted to use them.
This bug makes the Japanese beetle infestation nothing more than a simple annoyance.