What’s eating my Bougainvillea?

Bougainvillea Damage

Who doesn’t love the bright colors of a well cared for bougainvillea bush! I found a great was to incorporate a few new plants into new landscaping, only to find 2 weeks later, half a bush left!!

What was going on???

Many bougainvillea owners may find themselves at a loss when suddenly their healthy bougainvillea vine looks as though a mysterious night-time intruder has eaten away at all the leaves. This damage is caused by bougainvillea loopers. While not deadly to the plant, their damage is unsightly.

So what are you looking for? A Bougainvillea Looper Caterpillar is a small worm-like caterpillars that are commonly called “inchworms.” They will move by bunching up their body and then stretching back out, as though they are measuring the space. The bougainvillea looper caterpillar will be yellow, green or brown and will be found on bougainvillea, but may also be found on plants from the same family as the bougainvillea. These bougainvillea worms are the larva of the somber carpet moth. This moth is small, only about 1 inch wide, and has brown wings.

These bougainvillea plant pests are very hard to spot, as they tend to blend into the plant and will feed only at night, while hiding deep in the plant during the day. The signs that you have bougainvillea looper caterpillar is mainly damage to the leaves. The edges of the bougainvillea leaves will look chewed on and have a scalloped edge. A heavy infestation may even result in tender shoots being eaten and even complete defoliation of the affected bougainvillea vine. While the damage may look terrible, bougainvillea caterpillar damage will not kill a mature, healthy bougainvillea vine. It may be a threat to a very young bougainvillea plant though.

Bougainvillea loopers have many natural predators, such as birds and omnivorous animals. Attracting these animals to your yard can help keep the bougainvillea looper caterpillar population under control. Even with natural predators, bougainvillea loopers can sometimes multiply faster than the predators can eat. In these cases, you may want to spray the plant with a pesticide., or just call Beach Environmental to take care of it today!

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