The Q&A Archives: Bugs on Bamboo

Question: Hi, We have a very nice bamboo tree for 4 years now. All of the sudden we have been seeing tiny bugs or flies all over the bamboo. They are not flying around. They just attached to the bamboo. Is there anyway you can let me know how to treat or get rid of these bugs without hurting the bamboo.

Thank you in advance for your help.


Answer: Bamboos don't have many pests and those they do have are usually easy to eradicate. The Pacific Bamboo Mite is a pest that causes unsightly foliage but does not threaten the life of the plant. It is much easier to keep mites out of your bamboo than it is to get rid of them once they have established themselves. Therefore, inspect any new bamboo you import into your garden. If mites are found, immediately separate the plants from other bamboos in your garden and clean thoroughly with a high-powered hose. See below for stronger measures, if required. Also, mites live in grass, so make an effort to keep grasses away from the base of your bamboo.

The symptoms of mites are small, regular, bleached-looking spots on the leaves. If you look very closely at the underside of the leaves, you will also see a very fine white web. The mites themselves are silvery grey and so small it is hard to see them without a magnifying glass. Often mites and aphids can be found together, and the treatment for both is the same.

Aphids are small crawling insects, either green or black in color. Mealy bugs appear usually in branch joints as little spots of "white cotton" which seem not to move at all. Scale looks like little, flat cones on branches and leaves, and are light colored when young, growing darker and more visible with age.

Aphids, mealy bugs and scale are sometimes accompanied by ants and/or sooty mold. These insects all produce a sticky secretion that can be eaten by ants, and sometimes a black sooty mold grows on it as well. So the presence of ants or sooty mold is often a sign of insect problems. The ants themselves do not harm the bamboo. Mealy bugs and scale are less of a problem in areas which receive hard frosts in winter.

With the interests of the environment in mind, below you will find our approaches to insect problems, with the most environmentally friendly listed first:

If you have a pressure washer, use it once every week or two on the bamboo. This can be very effective against mites and other insects, and will not harm the leaves.

Or, you can thoroughly spray your plants with Insecticidal Soap. It is highly effective but can turn the leaves yellow, so try it first in an inconspicuous place.

A final suggestion is Neem Oil: organic insecticide which kills mites, aphids, mealy bugs, white flies, and other insects. Follow directions on bottle, including all safety precautions. (Other ?ultra-fine? oils can also be used to suffocate pests).

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