Watch out Big Apple and northern New Jersey. It looks like the viburnum leaf beetles (VLBs) are headed your way, if they’re not already in your neighborhood. Here’s what you can expect when larvae hatch in spring:
John Jordan, Natural Resources Supervisor at Prospect Park Alliance has found evidence of the beetle there, and says that there was a confirmed report on North Brother Island (between Manhattan and Queens) last year. VLBs are suspected to be in some of the larger parks in the Bronx, northern Manhattan and northern Queens. Native plant enthusiast William Wyman has recorded damage in Delaware Township Hunterdon County, N.J., 70 miles west, and they’ve also been spotted in Putnam County, N.Y., 60 miles north.
The viburnum leaf beetle, Pyrrhalta viburni (Paykull), is an invasive, non-native beetle that first appeared in New York along Lake Ontario in 1996, and has steadily spread across the state and down the Hudson Valley. It is a voracious eater that can defoliate viburnum shrubs entirely. Plants may die after two or three years of heavy infestation, particularly when larvae strip plants after hatching out in spring followed by heavy adult feeding later in summer.
Metro area and New Jersey readers: If you spot VLBs in your area, please tell us where in the comments.
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