Butterfly bushes are large shrubs that produce clusters of flowers; they are grown to attract beneficial insects like butterflies to the garden and for the beauty they add to any landscape design. However, insect problems present a serious threat to the health of a butterfly bush and can cause the shrub to become weak and susceptible to diseases.
Types of Insects
Some of the insects that affect butterfly bushes include aphids, mites and Japanese beetles. All three types of pests feed on the leaves, stems or flowers of the plant, causing it to become weak and lose nutrients. These insects feed on plants like butterfly bushes throughout the growing season, weakening its flower production. Insects like aphids live on a plant for their whole life cycle, causing a great deal of damage.
In addition to the weakening of the plant caused by problems with insects like aphids, Japanese beetles or spider mites, the plant loses nutrients and produces weaker, less vibrant growth. The holes in the leaves or stems left by problem insects are ideal spots for diseases to begin affecting the butterfly bush. Aphids frequently carry diseases with them from plant to plant, making it more likely that a butterfly bush will contract diseases if it has pest problems.
Biological Pest Control
Insects like ladybugs, also known as lady birds, are natural predators of some pest insects, including aphids and certain types of caterpillars. Releasing ladybugs onto a butterfly bush is a way to control pest populations without adding chemicals to the environment. Many garden centers sell predatory insects. Biological pest control increases biodiversity and helps keep the butterfly bush healthy.
Chemical Pest Control
Pesticides and pheromone traps are useful for controlling insects like the Japanese beetles. Pheromone traps help draw Japanese beetles away from a plant and prevent them from damaging it. Apply pesticides during the early spring to help control larval populations and throughout other parts of the year. Chemical pest control helps reduce pest populations and protect the butterfly bush from serious insect damage.