Bamboo Pests

Bamboo in the U.S. has few pests. For those starting new plants the most devastating pests can be gophers, moles and large herbivores such as cows, horses, goats and such. If you have gophers they can and do eat the underground roots and rhizomes. The afore-mentioned herbivores will eat the tops. Interestingly, we have had no predation by deer at our rural groves where we occasionally see deer and often see tracks.

Smaller and less devastating but certainly very significant are the bamboo mite, aphids, and the two spotted spider mite. The two spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae, can be a problem on indoor bamboo plantings. However the bamboo mite, Stigmaeopsis longus (see photo below) seem to be the only serious mite for outdoor bamboos in cooler climates. In warmer southern climates a close relative Stigmaeopsis celarius the mite of concern.  (note: the Genus  Stigmaeopsis was formerly Schizotetranychus and is still referred to by that name in some publications.) They live under the leaves, where they are protected by a very small web, attached to the surface of the leaf. They suck the juices from the leaf, and leave a white or cream colored patch (about 1 mm x 2 mm for longus, much smaller for celarius) on the upper surface. In severe infestations these patches can almost cover the whole leaf. Sometimes this is mistaken for variegation, nutritional deficiency, or leaf minors.

Be cautious, many nurseries selling bamboo do not seem to be aware of the importance of the bamboo mite as a pest. Ask them what their procedure to assure pest free plants is. Look at their plants for this pest if you visit their nursery. Look at the photos in the following web page. It is an important new website for control of bamboo mites created by Robin Rosetta of Oregon State University North Willamette Research & Extension Center.

WSU Researchers Lynell Tanigoshi and Beverly Gerdeman are continuing their research on Bamboo Spider Mites with some additional wok on Bamboo aphids that was funded partly by various ABS chapters including PNW. A PDF file should be found at

 Here is an article in Systematic & Applied Acarology Special Publications from April 2000 about Biology & Control of Bamboo Mites in Fujian

Aphids sometimes show up on bamboo early in the summer and their excretions can disfigure the foliage with a black sooty film. You can spray with a pesticide, a mild soap solution, or you can spray with a strong jet of water a couple of times and wait for small birds, ladybugs and other predators to control the infestation. If your bamboo is kept thinned so that there is air movement through the grove, mites and aphids will be much less of a problem.

See this link for a source for purchasing predator mites:

Stigmaeopsis longus

under attack by Galendromus helveolus

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