Common name: Viburnum leaf beetle
Scientific name: Pyrrhalta viburni
Hosts: Viburnum leaf beetle feeds only on viburnums. Viburnum leaf beetle has been known in some eastern states since the early 1990’s. A few possible sightings of this pest were reported in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015, the beetle was reported across the Chicago region with some regularity. This insect feeds as both larvae and adults and can do extensive damage. If left unchecked it can lead to the death of the shrub, in as little as two or three years. Some species of viburnum are more susceptible to the beetle than others.
Highly susceptible species of viburnum are the first to be attacked, and are generally destroyed in the first two to three years following infestation. Common viburnums that are considered highly susceptible include: Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum), V. nudum, (possum-haw, smooth witherod viburnum), V. opulus (European cranberry-bush viburnum), and V. opulus var. americana, formerly V. trilobum (American cranberry-bush viburnum).
Susceptible species of viburnum are eventually destroyed, but usually are not heavily fed upon until the most susceptible species are eliminated. Common viburnums that are considered susceptible include: V. acerifolium (mapleleaf viburnum), V. lantana (wayfaringtree viburnum), V. rufidulum (rusty blackhaw, southern black-haw), and V. sargentii (Sargent viburnum).
Moderately susceptible species of viburnum show varying degrees of susceptibility, but usually are not destroyed by the beetle. Common viburnums that are considered moderately susceptible include: V. burkwoodii (Burkwood viburnum), V. x carlcephalum (Carlcephalum viburnum), V. cassinoides (witherod viburnum), V. dilatatum (linden viburnum), V. farreri (fragrant viburnum) (except ‘Nanum’, which is highly susceptible), V. lentago (nannyberry viburnum), V. prunifolium (blackhaw viburnum), and V. x rhytidophylloides (lantanaphyllum viburnum).
Resistant species of viburnum show little or no feeding damage, and survive infestations rather well. Common viburnums that are considered resistant include: V. carlesii (Koreanspice viburnum), V. x juddii (Judd viburnum), V. plicatum (doublefile viburnum), V. plicatum var. tomentosum (doublefile viburnum), V. rhytidophyllum (leatherleaf viburnum), and V. sieboldii (Siebold viburnum).
Most species in all susceptibility groups exhibit more feeding damage when grown in the shade.