Elderberry (Sambucus)-Leafcutting bee

Megachile spp.

Description and crop damage Leafcutting bee activity is noted by the uniform oval and round pieces cut from the edges of leaves. The adult bee uses these little oval pieces to line the sides of an old beetle gallery or hole in the ground. She then gathers pollen to form a ball of food, and lays one egg, then seals the apartment with a wall made of a round leaf piece. Damage is transitory while leaves are pliable enough to be rolled up (but not so soft as to decay in the tunnel). Once leaves have hardened off, the leaf cutters will find other suitable hosts.

Management-cultural control

If the missing leaf portions are objectionable, try laying a light sheet or fine curtain netting over the plant until the leaves have hardened off, or the bees have found another suitable leaf donor. The trade-off between pollination services provided by the leafcutting bees and the damage can be a beneficial one. Plants are rarely harmed by the loss of some leaves.