Bugs That Live in Bamboo

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Many types of insects are found living in and eating bamboo.
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Bamboo plants (Bambusoideae spp.) have woody stems with varying leaf textures and sizes that you can enjoy in your landscape or container garden. With the right growing conditions, bamboo plants are pretty easy to grow, but you may be wondering, "Does bamboo attract bugs?" They aren't immune to pests that may dine on the stems and leaves, including spider mites, mealybugs and aphids. Bamboo grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 and 6.

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Bamboo Spider Mites

Spider mites are one of the more common bamboo pests you may find attacking your plants. Symptoms of a bamboo mite infestation include fine webs in your bamboo and yellow and brown spots on the leaves where the mites have fed. The spider mites themselves are small, eight-legged pests that may be difficult to see with the naked eye. One trick to confirm a spider mite infestation is to hold a white piece of paper under the leaves and tap the leaves to dislodge the mites. The mites will be more visible on the white paper.

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You can wash the mites off the bamboo with a stream of water. In addition, make sure that your bamboo is getting sufficient water, as mites are more likely to attack plants when conditions are dry.

If these measures aren't effective, you may need to use chemical control options, but this should be a last resort since these pesticides can also harm beneficial insects and pollinators. Make sure to follow the directions and warnings on the pesticide product label.

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Bamboo Mealybugs and Aphids

Mealybugs and aphids are other common bugs on bamboo plants. Aphids are small insects that grow only about 1/8 of an inch long. Many are green in color, which makes them very difficult to see. They feed on the sap of the bamboo and leave behind honeydew. You may see black sooty mold growing on the honeydew-coated leaves. They aren't typically harmful to the overall health of the bamboo, but they can decrease the growth rate in severe cases.

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Aphids can be managed much the same as you manage spider mites. Use a stream of water to wash the aphids from the bamboo and use an insecticidal soap or other chemical pesticides for more severe infestations.

Mealybugs can usually be spotted fairly easily, as they look like small spots of cotton. They also feed on the plant tissue and leave behind honeydew and black sooty mold on the bamboo. They have this appearance because they are covered with a waxy substance that is resistant to contact pesticides, which means these bamboo bugs are difficult to control. A systemic insecticide is often the best option.

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Other Bugs on Bamboo

If you have aphids and mealybugs on your bamboo, it is not uncommon to find ants also infesting the plant and surrounding area. The ants don't damage your bamboo directly; they are attracted to the honeydew left behind by the other pests.

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Do termites eat bamboo? Termites eat wood, and bamboo has woody stems. Termites are rarely a problem for bamboo plants, but there are termite species, such as the conehead termite, that may feed on bamboo plants.

Bamboo is often used to make things like furniture and baskets, and there are some pests that may destroy the bamboo wood in these products. For example, the bamboo borer is a small, dark-reddish-brown bug that is less than 1/5 inch long. Unless the damage is severe, you can likely fumigate the wood to get rid of these pests.

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