What Bug Is Eating My Bougainvillea?

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Bougainvillea (​Bougainvillea​ spp.) is a stunning vine that grows small, white trumpet-shaped flowers surrounded by colorful bracts in shades of pink, red, yellow, orange, white, or purple. Bougainvillea is a tough plant, thriving in the face of extreme heat and drought. Native to Central America, bougainvillea makes for a hardy climbing vine for your fence or trellis, but it is best cultivated in the warmer climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9b through 10a if you're growing it as a perennial.


Bougainvillea can grow up to 40 feet long if you're looking to cover a pergola. It can also be pot-grown for those who crave blooms with less sprawl. Gardeners love the tropical feel of this fast-growing vine and its show-stopping color. Unfortunately, gardeners aren't the only ones who admire the plant — there are some pests you might spot eating a bougainvillea.

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Looking to find out what's eating your beautiful backyard vines? Here's what you need to know.


What’s Eating My Bougainvillea?

What's another reason gardeners love bougainvillea? In addition to being naturally hardy, the bougainvillea doesn't tend to attract that many pests, but there are some insects — like aphids and leaf miners — that are drawn to it.

Aphids are one of the most commonly found pests crunching their way through bougainvillea leaves, much to the annoyance of gardeners. Aphids are attracted to the new leaves the plant grows. The honeydew excretions of aphids can attract ants and make sooty mold more likely to develop on your plant.


Leaf miners can also leave damage behind in bougainvillea plants. While the adults cause no harm, the same can't be said of the larvae. Leaf miner larvae dig tunnels to feed within young bougainvillea leaves, distorting their natural shape.

Managing Bougainvillea Pests

When it comes to pest control in your garden, natural is best. Believe it or not, the solution to your pest-ridden bougainvillea may be the humble ladybug. That's right. Once the subject of nursery rhymes, this little lady is a natural predator for aphids and leaf miners. Releasing ladybugs in your garden is a great way to help it thrive without the threat of these pests decimating the greenery.


However, sometimes a pesticide must be used. Take care when you're shopping and invest in one that won't harm the insects in your garden that are helping you by feasting on those naughty invaders.



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