What's eating my sarcococca?

Asked August 5, 2019, 6:21 PM EDT

One by one, branches get stripped of leaves seemingly overnight. It looks like the work of cutter ants (which we had a big problem with while living in Mexico), but I've been told there are no cutter ants here in Portland. I never see any sign of bugs on the shrub itself., and I've checked for ant trails as late as 10:30 pm but not seen anything. What do you recommend I do?

Multnomah County Oregon integrated pest management trees and shrubs insect issues

3 Responses

Sarcococca isn’t commonly damaged this way in my research of usual pests. I will refer your question to other experts. For now, clear under the shrub, removing any leaf-litter. Check carefully with a flashlight at night, looking for climbing caterpillar ‘cutworms’ or snails. Wrapping sticky tape in reverse around the trunk may catch a culprit too (like duct tape).

Thanks for passing on my question and continuing to try to figure it out. I have checked for pests at night and not been able to see anything. The shrub doesn't have any single "trunk," but rather many many branches, so tape would be quite difficult. I look forward to hearing from other researchers on this frustrating problem.

Are these leaves being cut off or are they falling off? There's a fair amount of chlorosis on some of the leaves on this plant. It looks a bit stressed. Is it in shade? Feel free to contact me at my email address below. I had a Sarcococca that exhibited some leaf loss and dieback one a while ago.