What is eating the leaves on my bouganvilla? - Knowledgebase Question

New Smyrna Beach, Fl
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Question by aabram16
June 30, 2010
Every year something eats the new leaves on my bouganvilla. We have tried many sprays but nothing seems to work. We have looked at all the leaves and do not find any pests. What do you suggest?

Answer from NGA
June 30, 2010
You didn't describe the damage, but if it is half-moon shapes cut from the edge of the leaves, it is female leafcutter bees. 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. The bits of foliage they remove do not harm healthy plants so no control is needed. Sprays are ineffective because the bees do not ingest the plant material. If this doesn't describe what's happening, please send another question with more detail. Thanks!

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