Bougainvillas Being Eaten - Knowledgebase Question

Las Vegas, Ne
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Question by alanbayduk
June 30, 2010
My plants are 3 years old and are in pots. Something is cutting perfect circles in the leaves and carting them off. The pots are on my sidewalk next to large decorative rocks. I think these bugs live in the rocks and only come out at night. I never see them, what can I do?

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
Female leafcutter bees are responsible for those half-moon shapes neatly cut from leaf or petal edges. Thin, smooth surfaces such as rose petals and bougainvillea leaves seem to be favorite choices. A bee finds a hole slightly larger than herself, often in the ground or wood. She inserts several curled pieces of plant material to form a protective ?cell?. Next, she fills the cell with a mixture of pollen and nectar to nourish her hatching larvae. Finally, she lays one egg, seals the cell with more plant material and is ready to repeat the process. Leafcutters are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, black or grey and resemble honeybees. They are solitary creatures and ignore humans and will not sting. They are excellent pollinators. The bits of foliage they remove do not harm healthy plants so no control is needed. Anyway, they don't ingest the plant foliage, so sprays are ineffective. They are just some of the interesting creatures in the desert!

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