The Q&A Archives: New Guinea Impatiens Pests

Question: I have very large New Guinea Impatiens in our backyard that have been beautiful (2feet wide and almost 2 feet tall) up until about one week ago. Of course it has been a very hot summer, and I have watered deeply at least twice a week.
About two weeks ago, we had a very bad rain and wind storm. Now the leaves are turning yellow and have holes in them. I have been looking for pests. The ants are eating the aphids which I wash off with the hose, but I did find a green, almost translucent, beetle-like bug, with one red spot on it. Please advise.

Answer: I'd guess the damage to the leaves was caused by the storm and not by insects. Impatiens leaves are tender and can be bruised and torn by wind and heavy rain. The insect you describe sounds like the Tortoise Beetle (Metriona bicolor). It does feed on leaves, but one insect shouldn't damage an entire plant. Tortoise beetles prefer the foliage of morning glory, bindweed and sweet potato, but if it's hungry enough it might feed on impatiens. Yellowing leaves may be a sign of poor soil fertility, or of impending autumn weather. New Guinea Impatiens are perennial plants, but they're tender and are generally grown as summer annuals in cold-winter climates. Continue to give your plant regular care, but expect that it will die down at the end of the summer season.

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