Viburnum Beetle Infestation in a Garden

Viburnum beetle (Hectonichus via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Viburnum beetles are a type of insect that feed on the leaves and stems of Viburnum shrubs, causing significant damage to the plant. These pests are a common problem for gardeners who grow Viburnum shrubs, and can quickly escalate if not detected and treated early. Viburnum beetle infestations can lead to defoliation of the shrub, as well as reduced growth and overall plant health. The beetles lay their eggs on the shrub, and the larvae will then feed on the plant, causing further damage. The adult beetles will then emerge in the spring, continuing the cycle of damage to the shrub. Gardeners can take preventative measures, such as proper sanitation and insecticide treatment, to control viburnum beetle infestations and protect their shrubs.


  • Shrivelled, brown leaves: The beetles will feed on the leaves of the plant, causing them to dry up and turn brown. This is often the first sign of a viburnum beetle infestation.
  • Holes in leaves, stems and flowers: The beetles will also chew holes in the leaves, stems and flowers of the Viburnum shrub. This damage can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to disease and other pests.
  • Large clusters of beetles on the plant: During the spring, adult viburnum beetles will congregate on the shrubs to mate and lay eggs. This can result in large clusters of beetles on the plant, which can further exacerbate the damage caused by feeding.
  • Reduced growth and overall plant health: Over time, a viburnum beetle infestation can lead to reduced growth and overall plant health as the plant becomes weaker and less able to defend itself against other pests and diseases. The shrub may become stunted, have fewer leaves, and produce fewer flowers.

What is a Viburnum Beetle

  • Approximately 1/2 inch long: Viburnum beetles are relatively small insects, measuring approximately 1/2 inch in length.
  • Black or dark brown in color: The beetles are typically black or dark brown in color, with a glossy appearance.
  • Oval or elongated shape: The beetles have an oval or elongated shape, with a slightly rounded body.
  • Iridescent sheen on the beetle’s body: The beetles have an iridescent sheen on their body, giving them a metallic appearance in certain lighting conditions.
  • Antennae are longer than the body: The antennae of the viburnum beetle are longer than the body, and are used to detect mates and locate food sources.

Treating a Viburnum Beetle Infestation

In many cases, it may be necessary to use multiple methods to effectively control viburnum beetle infestations in a garden. For example, combining hand picking with the application of an insecticide can help to reduce the population of beetles and limit the damage caused by the infestation. Each infestation is unique, and gardeners should consider the specific circumstances of their situation when selecting the best control methods for their Viburnum shrubs.

Physical Control Methods

  • Hand picking: Gardeners can physically remove adult beetles from the shrub and dispose of them. This method is most effective when there are only a few beetles present on the plant. To hand pick the beetles, simply grasp the beetle between your thumb and forefinger and gently pull it from the plant. It is important to dispose of the beetles immediately, as they can lay eggs on the shrub and start a new infestation.
  • Pruning: Pruning away infested branches can help to reduce the population of beetles and limit the damage caused by the infestation. To prune infested branches, use sharp, clean pruning shears and cut the branches at least 6 inches below the last sign of damage. Dispose of the pruned material immediately to prevent the beetles from spreading to other parts of the garden.

Cultural Control Methods

  • Sanitation: Keeping the garden and surrounding area free of debris and dead plant material can help to reduce the population of viburnum beetles and limit the spread of infestations. This can include removing fallen leaves, dead branches, and other plant material from the area.
  • Plant health: Maintaining the overall health of the Viburnum shrub by providing proper care, including adequate water and nutrients, can help the plant to better resist infestations and recover from damage. A healthy Viburnum shrub is less likely to be seriously affected by a viburnum beetle infestation and will be better able to withstand the damage caused by the beetles.

Chemical Control Methods

  • Insecticides: There are a variety of insecticides available for controlling viburnum beetle infestations, including systemic insecticides that are absorbed into the plant and insecticides applied to the foliage. When selecting an insecticide, it is important to choose a product that is labeled for use on Viburnum shrubs and for controlling viburnum beetles.
  • Timing: Timing is critical when using insecticides for controlling viburnum beetle infestations. The best time to treat the shrub is when the adult beetles are present, as this will help to reduce the population of beetles and prevent further damage to the plant. It is important to follow the label instructions carefully when applying insecticides to avoid damaging the plant or the environment.

Biological Control Methods

  • Natural predators: There are a number of natural predators of the viburnum beetle, including birds and other insects. Encouraging these predators to inhabit the garden can help to reduce the population of beetles and limit the damage caused by the infestation. This can be achieved by planting a variety of native plants that provide food and shelter for the predators, or by installing bird feeders and bird baths in the area.
  • Beneficial insects: The release of beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps, can help to control viburnum beetle infestations by attacking and killing the beetles. Beneficial insects can be purchased from a garden center or online and should be released according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This method is most effective when used in conjunction with other control methods, such as hand picking and pruning.