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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Bougainvillea with Leaf Damage in Circles

Q. I bought a Bougainvillea ('Barbara Karst') last April and planted it in my front yard. After digging the hole I added a local Rose and Flower food in the bottom of the hole. I then added water and then planted the Bougainvillea.
            This plant receives sunlight more than 6 hours every day and I water it as noted on the label. All went well until something started to carve big divots out of the leaves. I sprayed "Ortho Bug B Gone" as I was told and only sprayed it on the plant at night so it would not burn the leaves.
            Well it did the trick but the edges of the plant started to turn brown and shrivel up. As soon as new fresh, unsprayed tender leaves came out, the bug came back and started to carve out holes in the leaves again. Is there something I am doing wrong?
'Barbara Karst' Bougainvillea with Leaf cutter bee damage in flowers

A. This is the leafcutter bee and the female is using your bougainvillea leaves to build its nests. These bugs are good guys and help to pollinate our fruits and vegetables. By the way, these bees are very docile, only sting if they are provoked, and cannot become Africanized.

            I never recommend spraying to control bees of any kind. I tell people to "live with them" and encourage watering and fertilizing to encourage more growth.

            Add plant more to lessen the damage on individual plants or plant other plants to lessen the visual damage. These include roses, many kinds of flowers, grapes and basil.

            The damage will not hurt your plant if you can live with it. I will put more information and pictures on my blog several months ago. In the blog search engine, type in “leafcutter bee”.

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