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Lilac Bushes

Q.What decimates my white lilac every early June? And what can I do about it?

Zone UK- South West | Anonymous added on February 16, 2020 | Answered

I have a small white lilac which every year looks promising with buds and fresh leaves. Then in the first week of June over night it is suddenly attacked and the leaves eaten, leaving saw tooth skeletons of leaves and broken branches/twigs. I’ve never seen any evidence of what might be doing this! Have you any idea of what it is and how can I prevent it?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 20, 2020

It doesn't look like snail damage, but it could be a large beetle or weevil or a caterpillar. Weevils and beetles can harbor in the soil or other habitat and come out at night to feed. Look closely at undersides of leaves and on stems for caterpillars, which can be camoflaged with coloring or hiding. Going out with a flashlight at night is sometimes necessary to find the critters. But insect pests would not break branches and twigs, so bird damage seems most likely.

Only thing you can try with pigeons is an owl or hawk decoy as a repellent, rubber snake, or a motion detector on an impulse sprinkler to spray when birds come in.

Bird netting over the shrub might be useful.

Neem oil spray is a botanical insect repellent, but needs to be reapplied every week during peak infestation period.


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