Invasive viburnum leaf beetle found in Minnesota for the first time

Viburnum leaf beetles are native to Europe
Viburnum leaf beetles are native to Europe and feed exclusively on species of viburnum.
Minnesota Department of Agriculture

A new invasive insect with a very specific diet has made its way to Minnesota.

For the first time, the viburnum leaf beetle has been confirmed in the state. A resident of Eden Prairie found the insect feeding on arrowwood viburnum leaves in June and contacted the state Department of Agriculture.

State officials collected samples and received confirmation of the infestation from the federal Agriculture Department.

Viburnum leaf beetles are native to Europe and had previously been found in the northeastern U.S. and in Wisconsin.

"It feeds exclusively on species of viburnum and can defoliate the plant. Repeated defoliation weakens the plant over time and can eventually kill viburnum," the state Ag Department said in a news release.

"The insect was able to somehow hitch a ride from outside Minnesota and find its way to the Twin Cities metro area. However, we may never know exactly how it got here," Angie Ambourn, supervisor of the state Ag Department's Pest Detection Unit, said in a news release. "Unfortunately, this is yet another example of the ease at which invasive insects, plants, and diseases can quickly spread throughout the U.S. and the world."

Viburnum leaf beetle larvae are yellow to light brown with black spots and dashes on their bodies; they chew holes in leaves. Adult beetles lay eggs along viburnum twigs.

The beetles and larvae can be controlled by pruning and destroying infested twigs, and by choosing viburnum varieties that are resistant to the pest. Chemicals also can be used to control the insects.

State officials are asking for help from the public in locating other possible infestations.

"It’s important that we get an understanding of where this insect may be in Minnesota and how big of an issue this is to homeowners," Ambourn said.

If you spot a suspected infestation of viburnum leaf beetles, you can:

Send photos and location information using the Arrest the Pest tip line: arrest.the.pest@state.mn.us or (888) 545-6684.

Report sightings at www.eddmaps.org.

Use the Great Lakes Early Detection Network app.

Find more information on the viburnum leaf beetle here.

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