Holes In Camellia Leaves: Controlling Camellia Weevils And Beetles

Holes In Camellia Leaves: Controlling Camellia Weevils And Beetles

By: Amy Grant

Camelliasare gorgeous blooming harbingers of spring. Unfortunately, their beauty can besignificantly marred by holes in camellia leaves. Beetles on camellias are thelikely culprit, but controlling camellia weevils can be difficult to achieve sincethe pests feed mostly at night. If your camellia plant has holes, it is mostlikely the result of the camellia vine weevil or cranberry rootworm beetle.

About Beetles on Camellias

If you see holes in your camellia leaves, the likelysuspects are twofold: the blackvine weevil, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, or the cranberry rootwormbeetle, Rhabdopterus picipes. The adult beetles feed primarily at nightwhile their larvae feed on the root system, making them difficult to identifyand control.

The black vine weevil is most detrimental in its larvalstage. It feeds on a variety of broad leaf evergreens as well as greenhousespecimens. Adults are equal opportunists and ravage both herbaceous anddeciduous plants, and can be found through much of the northern U.S. and intoCanada.

This camellia vine weevil overwinters in the grub stage andthen awakens in the spring as the soil warms. Adults feed and make holes incamellia leaves and then lay eggs at the base of the host plant in the latesummer. Plants that have large numbers of grubs feeding on them can die.

The cranberry rootworm beetle feeds on camellia leaves,leaving tell-tale narrow or crescent shaped holes in the foliage. New growth ismost affected.

Generally, the damage done by these pests is purelycosmetic.

Controlling Camellia Weevils

To control camellia vine weevils, use sticky traps placed onthe ground around the plant. Shake the plant to dislodge the weevils. If yousee adults adhere to the sticky traps, dig around the camellia and pick out thesmall, legless grubs. Dispatch these in a bowl of hot, soapy water.

Also, keep the area surrounding the camellia free fromdebris that camellia vine weevils hide in during the day.

If the insect infestation is severe and the above actions donot control it, spray the foliage with a natural insecticide like spinosad orbifenthrin, lambda cyhalothrin, or permethrin once flowering is done andfeeding damage can be seen.

You should also spray and saturate the leaf litter beneaththe plants. Again, do not spray during bloom time, which will affect beneficialpollinating insects and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

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Bug holes on leaves of Nellie R Stevens Holly

I chose Nellie R Stevens Holly partly because I'd read that it is almost pest-free. but it's not working out that way.

Can someone help me find what is eating holes in the leaves of my Nellie R Stevens Hollies at my Richardson, Texas home?

They were planted from 5-gal containers last October as a hedge around my back yard (about 25 plants), and they are growing very nicely. but something besides me finds them attractive.

All the tender new leaves have holes in them. while the older hard green leaves seem almost untouched.

I guess that should be my first question. what's the best way to find the bugs?

I have searched this forum without finding anything that sounds like it.

I've also done a Google search on the Internet and found a reference that said that aphids sometimes infest the tender leaves, but don't eat the hard glossy leaves.

That's what this bug is doing. But aphids wouldn't eat holes like this would they? These aren't "pin holes", but are maybe 1/8" in diameter.

Thanks so much for any advice.

That looks like skeletonization to me. Maybe some sort of a beetle. Grab your flashlight and go out about 2 hours after nightfall and see if you don't find a a beetle or two munching away. See if this is what you find-

If you can't see any beetles with your flashlight, look up Rhabdopterus picipes damage and see if that fits the bill.

It was too wet to try to check last night, but will try again this evening.

On doing a Google search for beetles and holly, I found references to "infested containers from the nursery".

That leads me to wonder if these Hollies were already infested before they planted, and if I should expect the landscaper to take care of this.

The landscaper did guarantee his work, but after the fact, I realize I don't know "against what".

He came out when I first noticed the leaf holes, a few weeks ago, when other plants were just beginning to leaf out.

He said the insects were eating the Hollies because nothing else was available, and since other plants were beginning to grow, the insects would go there, instead.

I believed him, so wasn't paying close attention to the Hollies, and let the problem get ahead of me.

Now, it's on ALL my Nellie R Stevens Hollies, but Photinia right next to them, aren't affected at all.

I don't think I'd be all that thrilled with his response because if your plants are being devoured by cranberry beetles, they are devouring your hollies because that's pretty much what they like to munch on. It does sound as if your hollies were a trojan horse when you purchased them. You really do need to check at night but my guess is this is what is defoliating your plants. If it is, I'd ask him to take the plants back to the wholesaler where he bought them for a refund and I'd ask for a refund as opposed to replacements. At this point, he dug the holes for you so get help over in the Trees and Shrubs Forum and select your own replacements. You can do it!

Look familiar? Read up on the life cycle of that icky.

Yes, that looks exactly like it!

I will get out there with a flashlight tonight, but I think you've nailed the problem.

I can ASK the landscaper to take them back and refund my money, but I'm betting it will be a real battle unless I can prove that the only way this could have happened is if the plants were infested before he planted them, and also that it should come under his guarantee.

Now that you have put me on the right path, I will dig in and read whatever I can find.

While I'm "fairly" good at Internet searches most of the time, in this case, I just couldn't get it narrowed down enough to do any good.

I'd put your concerns in writing and tell him to remove them and credit your account.

Maybe the reason I’ve found so little information is that the Cranberry Weevil has been considered a problem only for cranberry and blueberry growers in the NorthEast.

But. from what I've read in the last few hours, that may not be the case for much longer.

According to Texas Cooperative Extension, at:

"Though poorly studied in Texas, the cranberry weevil is the most likely cause of mysterious curved holes that appear overnight on tender, new holly foliage."

Other facts I’ve just learned:

- It is so difficult to control that it can cause the loss of entire crops of cranberries or blueberries.

- The only effective control is so toxic that the grower must obtain a "Crisis Exemption" to even buy it.

- It looks a bit like a flea, and is not much larger. When disturbed, it rolls up and drops to the ground, making it difficult to find.

A good write-up, complete with photos, is here:

The photo to the left, from the above website, is titled:

A pair of cranberry weevils crawling along the top of a baby food jar.

Unfortunately, I think you might have Rhabdopterus picipes. No viable biological controls out there for them which leaves you with having to mess around with chemicals and timing them properly for optimal control. Control isn't by any means eradication and I suspect you might be battling these for a while if you hang onto those hollies.

Why don't you scrape a few off your leaves and put them in a plastic baggie and then call your landscaper and politely ask him to please come and get those hollies out of your ground so that he can return them to the wholesaler he bought them from. I really don't like his response to you that they were eating your hollies because nothing else was available. What are you supposed to do. offer them a smorgasbord of plants they like in addition to your hollies so they can multiply? In addition to hollies, cranberries, and blueberries they also like to chow down on azaleas, viburnums, and camellia. Probably others out there they'd like too.

I'm a pretty reasonable person but I'd want those beetle infested plants out of my yard.

Oh my! This is SO discouraging. [sob]

I just came in from exploring the hollies with a flashlight.

I was able to spot only one suspect, but the wind was blowing the leaves around so much that it was hard to see anything at all.

I tried to capture him, but he got away from me, and I couldn't find another.

It was a beetle all right, reddish brown, and looked like those in the photo on the baby food jar lid, but was much bigger. Probably more than twice as big as I was expecting.

I know it's going to be a battle because I've already gone through one round of having to make the landscaper honor his contract.

He put in a ground soaker with a timer as a watering system and it wasn't working properly. it was flooding my yard and my neighbor's yard, and I couldn't get him to come back. After several weeks I threatened to sue him in small claims court. Then he finally came back and fiddled with it a bit, but he hasn't been back to check on it, nor has he been back to check on the bugs.

I dread having to go through that again, but I guess there's no other way.

Something is putting holes in my ornamental potato vine

It appears to be slugs. They used to do this to my Hostas. You can crush egg shells and place around the outside bottom of the container on the ground. You can also take an electrical copper wire and strip the plastic covering off. Make the wire into a ring and place it around the bottom of the container laying it on the ground.I"ve used both methods and both work equally as well.

Small crickets are eating mine do you have any suggestions

It might be Golden Tortoise Beetles-check the undersides for them. Here is a link:

I agree with Rhonda. We have to spray for the golden tortoise beetles every year. They hide on the underside of the leaves. You'll need to use an insecticide on these shiny little beetles as they do a lot of damage very quickly.

This looks like MY sweet potato vine! My damage was from slugs. The egg shells work, as does coarse sand. They don't like crawling on the sharp surface. I pick them off as I find them. They live in the soil (and will winter over), so if your plants are in a container, you may want to re-pot when you get them controlled.

Agree with Rhonda & Susan, the dreaded golden beetles. Sevin dust to the rescue!!

The holes aren't big enough to be slugs. you would also see slime trails. Slugs usually start from the outside and eat their way in.


If it is slugs, they don't like garlic. Bash a glove then boil for 5 min, drain and keep the liquid, use a small amount with 5ltr watering can. It worked well on my Hostas.

Mix 4-6 ounces of water with 1/2 teaspoon of salad oil & a teaspoon of Palmolive dish liquid in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray where leaves are being eaten. spray both sides of leaves. Check for any bugs, squish any that you find.

I loved my sweet potato ivy, I thought my holes were from lil worms in Napa, Calif.

Please re-fresh my memory on how to start the sweet potato ivy, and it grows fast? Just the 1 end in water ? That took forever when I did it and it did not last. I had one 1 time about 15-20 inches across. So pretty !! Nae'

It could be cutter bees. Living on a farm I noticed my plant leaves had holes in them. I asked a neighbor to come over and give me advice. He said that the cutter bees help pollinate and they cut the holes to pack in the wee ones (not yet born) and he said I'd not be able to get rid them until the pollination was finished. It was about 2 weeks later I had no more holes. They had moved the cutter bees away to another area.

It’s beetles doing this not slugs! Unfortunately you need a pesticide. I’ve tried the home remedies ie dawn, water, oil and hot sauce to no avail. Eventually I stopped planting them but this year I’m giving it another try.

Small crickets are eating holes in my sweet potato vines, I have a video. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep them away?

Keep plants healthy to thwart weevil attacks

LATE August is a great time to enjoy the garden and it's also an opportune time to control weevils in the garden.

There are several species of weevils native to B.C. including the obscure root weevil (Sciopithes obscurus), woods weevil (Nemocestes incomptus), Horn's Woods weevil, (Nemocestes horni) and the Woodburn weevil (Dyslobus granicollis).

But the black vine weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus) and the strawberry root weevil (Otiorhynchus ovatus) both introduced to B.C. around 1895 from Europe are the most prolific weevil pests of plants in gardens, nurseries and berry fields.

Weevils look similar to some beetles, having a three segmented body that is about eight millimetres long, with a head with black antennae, a long snout, a small mid section called the thorax and a large abdomen. The body colour is black or brown and sometimes spotted with yellow or tan spots.

Black vine weevils are flightless females and parthenogenetic, meaning reproduction happens without fertilization from a male. Female weevils lay on average 200 eggs. Adult weevils lay eggs on the soil surface in July and the eggs hatch in two to three weeks. The newly emerged larvae descend into the soil to feed on roots and root bark.

Weevil young (called larvae) are white in colour, with brown heads, no legs and often found curled in the soil lying in a "C" shape. Larvae are usually smaller than the adult or slightly larger depending on their stage of development and how much food is available to eat.

During their development, the larvae molt five or six times within earthen cells in the soil.

Adult weevils eat the leaves of many different plants including rhododendron, yew, strawberry, lily, camellia, salal, rose, viburnum, many perennials, trees and many other plants. Damage is indicated by the telltale crescent-shaped notches on the edge of the leaf with severe damage leaving the leaf looking jagged. Adults are nighttime feeders and they feed on new or current year's leaf growth. A few or several weevil notches on the leaf is not a plant health concern, it is merely a cosmetic issue.

Weevils do not eat holes in leaves but they can eat notches into leaf holes caused by other pests. Weevil larvae eat plant roots and they can eat the soft bark where the trunk/stem touches the ground, causing stem girdling and plant death.

Effective weevil control can be obtained by using integrated control methods, not just one method but several methods applied simultaneously. Keeping plants healthy is always the best line of defence and it can be obtained by properly watering, applying mulch, avoiding the use of chemical fertilizers which induce soft leaf growth that is prone to pest attack and choosing the right plant for the right place. Encouraging natural weevil enemies like birds, frogs, toads, shrews, hedgehogs and predatory ground beetles is very effective. Applying sticky barriers like Tanglefoot or StickEm to the trunk will prevent adult weevils from travelling up the trunk to eat the leaves. Apply a plastic wrap or masking tape to the stem before applying Tanglefoot to avoid stem tissue burn.

Chemical control of adult weevils in a residential setting is generally ineffective due to the lack of effective personnel training, poor quality spray equipment, insect resistance and the fact that most people spray after the damage is seen, which is too late to control the adult and the larval stage can't be controlled with foliar sprays.

Weevil traps can be made from burlap, small pieces of wood, small pots or corrugated cardboard that is placed under the target plants. The weevils will hide in the traps during the day where they can be collected before their nighttime feeding begins.

Physical barriers placed on top of the soil work but barriers can be time consuming to install and they need monitoring for effectiveness. A layer of sharp

sand placed around target plants may prevent egg laying. Coffee grounds are also said to be an effective deterrent but too much coffee is not good for the soil pH.

The use of beneficial and parasitic nematodes can be effective in controlling weevil larvae that are found in the soil in late August and September. Commercial nematode products include BioSafe, Biovector and Nemesis, among others. Soil temperatures must be at least 13 C, preferably higher, and lots of irrigation must be applied to the soil before and after nematode application to allow the nematodes to swim through the soil to find the larvae. These nematodes do not like direct sunlight, so apply them during the evening.

One of the most effective weevil controls can be obtained by hand-picking them off the plant during their nighttime feeding hours.

This is best done during the "summer weevil hunt party" that includes the company of friends and lots of wine.

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