How Can We Save a Willow Tree From Beetles?
by Jean Godawa
Beetle pests attack willow trees from inside the wood and outside on leaves.
As its name suggests, the California willow leaf beetle (Plagiodera californica) is a particular pest of willows. These small, shiny, darkly-colored beetles chew holes or notches in willow leaves. Their larvae feed in groups, skeletonizing the leaf tissue and covering it with black droppings, or frass. The cottonwood leaf beetle (Chrysomela scripta) causes similar damage to willow leaves but is a slightly larger, yellow beetle with black markings.
Leaf Beetle Control
Feeding by leaf beetles is rarely fatal to healthy willow trees. However, in large numbers, leaf beetles can defoliate or weaken a willow, making it susceptible to other pests and diseases. Natural enemies like lady beetles, stink bugs and lacewings often keep pest beetle populations low. Avoid using insecticides on or around the
tree that may target these natural enemies. Where natural predators are absent, treat the willow with Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil bacterium that kills insect larvae. Trim unhealthy or dead willow branches to restore vigor to the tree.
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