Bougainvillea Pest - Knowledgebase Question

Miami, FL
Question by chihluan
November 21, 1999
Periodically, the leaves on my bougainvilla have holes in them (as much as half of any individual leaf gone), particularly the new growth. It looks like the work of worms but I have never been able to find any trace of any kind of pest. Any ideas on my mystery leaf eater and how to get rid of it?


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Answer from NGA
November 21, 1999

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There is a bougainvillea caterpillar (Asciodes gordialis) that can cause leaf damage during the summer months. It's difficult to control a pest that you don't see, so I wouldn't spray the plant 'just in case' a pest shows up. But, if you discover the critters munching down, you can use the botanical Bt (Bacillus thuriengensis). This product is a stomach poison so the caterpillars need to consume some before it will work. Therefore, treat only if you find the pests.

Hope this helps solve the mystery!

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