So, you have some weird bug eating your lantana leaves and you have no idea what it is.
All you see is damage getting worse by the day and you’ll do whatever it takes to stop it (or nearly enough).
What is this pest?
Why is it eating your lantana?
How do you stop it?
We’ll cover this and more in this guide!
You’ll learn about:
- Identifying lantana pests
- Signs of pest damage
- Common types of bugs that eat lantana and how to get rid of them
- Ways to prevent bugs in the future from eating your lantana
- And more
You should have a good basic understanding by the end of this guide. If you already know the pest, feel free to jump to it.
If you have any questions or the tips in this guide didn’t work for you, please drop me a message by posting a comment (as always) at the end of this page.
Sounds good? Let’s make your lantana bloom.
What is eating my lantana?
Your gorgeous lantana plant is showing signs of damage.
You see holes or veiny leaves. Or maybe wilted, curled, or yellowing leaves. Perhaps you even see some nasty sticky goop on the leaf surfaces. What is all this?
Lantana is a resilient plant and is only susceptible to a small handful of common garden pests.
Thankfully, once you identify them and then eradicate them, your lantana will likely come back stronger than ever. The key is to find out which pest you have first, then take steps to control, manage, and eliminate it.
Signs of pest damage
Lantana proves to be a hardy plant to pests, so it’s no wonder why many hands-off gardeners like a few of them in the garden.
However, if you see these signs of damage on your plant, it could be a pest infestation.
- Yellowing, browning, or tanning leaves
- Wilted or curled foliage
- Visible pests or eggs on the lantana
- Pests on the stems or flowers
- Drooping leaves
- Dropped leaves
- White, black, or brown spots on the leaf surface
- Stunted plant growth
- Failed blooms
- Small leaves
- Veiny leaves
- Irregular leaf edges
- Stopped blooms
- Holes in foliage
- Changes in leaf/stem color
Note that seeing these signs doesn’t guarantee a pest infestation. It could also be a plant virus, bacteria, or fungal problem like xyz.
Common types of bugs that eat lantana
With its unique kaleidoscopic flower clusters, lantana brings beneficial pollinators to your garden.
Think birds, bees, and everything in between.
But that also means pest problems.
Unlike aromatic herbs, which have pest repelling properties, lantana brings in beneficial insects but detrimental insects as well.
Thankfully, there aren’t a TON of different bugs that eat lantana, which makes it somewhat easier to control when you find an infestation.
Here are some DIY home remedies to kill the most common types of lantana pests.
Find the one that’s eating your flowers or leaves and try a few of the methods outlined here. See what works for you.
There’s no single technique that works 100% of the time. It’ll take (some) work and a lot of patience, depending on the bug type and infestation severity.
But thankfully, it’s limited to just a small handful of these buggers:
- Lace bugs
- Spider mites
- Ants (as a byproduct of honeydew secretions by other lantana insects)
We’ll cover all of them in detail next.
How to get rid of lantana pests
Lantana by nature is a pest hardy plant and has minimal pest problems. It even repels some annoying insects like mosquitoes just by the aromatic scent it releases.
However, some nuisances may infect your plant if conditions allow it.
We’ll cover some of the most common bugs found on lantana and how to get rid of them naturally using DIY techniques you can do at home.
Ready to do some bug control for your lantana? Let’s let those big green jagged leaves shine!
Leaf miners xyz are those pesky bugs that’ll bore those random tunnels in your leaves.
Just like the name implies, they “mine” their way through your lantana’s foliage and leave those veiny lines all over it.
It makes it look ugly, but at the same time, it’s mesmerizing. How does such an insect find its way into your leaves? How does it decide which way to tunnel?
Why do the designs look so random, yet fascinating at the same time? Only they know.
Leaf miners can cause holes in your lantana leaves or make them stop blooming.
Regardless, these leaf miners will wreak havoc if you don’t get rid of them. The adult females look for young tender leaves to lay their eggs in. The eggs hatch just days later (1-3 days) and the larvae begin their path of destruction.
They feed on the interior of the leaves, damaging the sap, nutrients, veins, and ruining the process of photosynthesis.
The more they eat, the less energy your lantana can generate from sunlight. They leave behind brown blotches and blisters all over the leaf surface.
The larvae do the most damage, but the adults also eat the sap that comes from their egg-laying sites, which is usually just around the edges of each leaf. This may appear jagged or irregular chewed edges.
Their damage also brings in possible fungal infections. Leaves will wither and then drop from the stem.
Isolate damaged foliage
While leaf miner damage is ugly, they’re quite easy to control. Start by pruning off any damaged leaves as soon as you notice them.
This stops them from eating up other leaves on the host plant. Additionally, if you have multiple lantana plants, isolate the damaged ones into quarantine.
The cut-off leaves should be bathed in rubbing alcohol or vinegar and then disposed of. Do NOT use it as compost.
Don’t use sprays
To get rid of them, don’t use any sprays.
They won’t penetrate the leaf surface to the point where it’ll get inside their tunnels to eliminate them.
So sprays are not an option. This includes soapy water, insecticides, horticultural oils, etc.
Use neem oil
The one that DOES do some damage is neem oil.
Neem will leave behind a coat of oil that covers the leaf. It may discourage the adults from depositing their eggs on the leaf because it has a protective layer.
Neem does cause the plant to burn if applied incorrectly.
You should never use it when the sun is strong. And you should avoid overdoing it.
Water down your plant to wash away excess neem oil after you apply.
Avoid contact with people/pets as it can cause adverse reactions. Use as directed.
Neem will need to be diluted before you can apply it, so find a recipe online and use it as directed.
Sticky tape can be a passive way to catch and kill leaf miners from infesting your lantana in the first place.
The tape can be stuck onto stakes that surround your plant. This makes it more difficult for them to deposit and invest in it.
Think of it like building a pen.
Use stakes on all corners of the plant bed, then roll the tape across from stake to stake. Position it at leaf height for best results. Replace the tape as needed.
The best part about using tape is that you can see the results of your pest control plan. In the beginning, you should see a lot of them being trapped.
But over time, you should see fewer leaf miners getting stuck. This means whatever you’re doing is working.
Seasons change, so account for that. Leaf miner activity is highest in the summertime and nearly nonexistent in the winter.
You need to account for that to get an accurate picture.
If you need more tips on controlling leaf miners, check out this guide xyz.
Whiteflies are a PITA because of their protective coating on their bodies.
They have a special wax called xyz that naturally repels sprays and other popular insecticides, making them one Slipper Pete that’s hard to deal with.
Whiteflies also suck out precious sap from your lantana, which leaves behind wilting, yellow, drooping leaves.
They also leave behind a sticky, sooty clear residue called honeydew on your lantana leaves. It blocks your plant’s ability to properly photosynthesize. It also gets ants to your lantana that come to greedily eat the sweet, sweet honeydew.
While the ants won’t harm your lantana, the combination of ants, whiteflies, and other pests crawling all over the leaves are less than pleasant.
If you see a black, sooty mold on your leaves, it’s likely honeydew from whiteflies.
It secretes as a clear sticky substance that’ll mold then transform into a black tarry goo over time. Your lantana will suffer and then drop its leaves in response.
To control whiteflies on lantana, there are few things you can do. But you should act quickly rather than later if you want to save your plant.
Use beneficial insects
First, learn what natural predators you have in your USDA hardiness zone.
This doesn’t have to take forever. Think to yourself: Have you seen ladybugs in your yard? Or wasps? How about pirate bugs?
These are natural predators that consume whiteflies and just their presence in your yard can help eliminate their population. The trick is to find out WHICH one of these you have naturally, and how to get more of them.
Ladybugs can be purchased online in bulk and then released in batches. They’re one of the most beneficial insects for pest control xyz and highly popular in space.
This is because they eat larvae, eggs, and even microscopic organisms that can cause plant infections xyz.
Plus, ladybugs leave on their own when there’s nothing left to eat. They don’t harm your plants and they don’t infest your yard.
Besides, I wouldn’t call a garden with an abundance of ladybugs a problem.
The problem is keeping them contained in your garden. They go where the food is. If you release them in your yard and they fly away because they can’t find the food source, then yeah, you just wasted your investment.
But if your yard is teeing full of pests that ladybugs eat, such as xyz, whiteflies, etc. Then they’ll stay and consume until there’s nothing left.
This is why it works best if you have a greenhouse.
Putting your lantana (if it’s potted) into a miniature greenhouse indoors or a regular one in your garden keeps the beneficial ladybugs confined to one area.
You put the infested plants in there, release the ladybugs as directed, and then wait for them to eat the pests up.
If this is possible, consider buying a bulk pack of them and having them take care of the problem. Ladybug farms should provide directions on how to best use them. Use as directed.
Use running water
Whiteflies can easily be drowned by running water. When you water your lantana, use a hose and gently wash them off.
This will help dislodge them from your plant leaves, disturb their habitat, and kill a few. By doing this over and over, they may leave your host plant entirely.
Cut off and then sterilize any infested leaves. This will help cut off the infection. Do not leave any leaves intact that have signs of honeydew.
Cut off any foliage that has visible egg or larvae, then dip them into soapy water to kill them before disposing of it.
Neem oil is an excellent organic pesticide. Buy a bottle of oil and then dilute to the manufacturer’s directions.
Spray it on your lantana in the early morning or late evening. The neem will kill larvae and eggs, plus leave behind a layer of grease to help block pests.
Use as directed. Apply after watering when the temperature is lower than 80F.
You can make your soap water by diluting 1 tablespoon of dish detergent into a quart of water.
Spray down your lantana leaves regularly with it. It kills larvae and makes the eggs easily scrape off with a sponge or toothbrush.
Clean your plant once every few days until the whiteflies are gone.
For more tips and tricks for whitefly control, check out this guide on naturally getting rid of them xyz.
Lace bugs are one of the most common bugs you’ll see on lantana plants. They appear nearly all over the US where they grow natively.
Lace bugs are common in warmer areas. They eat the undersides of the foliage, which makes the top turn yellow, brown, or white.
You may notice these weird white spots on the leaf surfaces. The foliage may also drop or dry up.
Adult lace bugs wild esprit eggs on the bottom of leaves and then use a sticky brown goop to keep them protected. The eggs will hatch with larvae that feed on the foliage over time.
What does lantana lace bug damage look like?
If you notice any of these signs, it may be the work of lace bugs:
- White spots in the laves
- Patchy foliage
- Suddenly failed blooms
- Stunted growth
- Tan foliage
- Scorched or burned appearance
- Visible lace bugs or eggs
- Yellowing of the leaves
- Brown or white streaks on the foliage
- Dried or wilted foliage
- Rusty brown fungus on the surface
- Sticky residue on the leaf undersides
Note that most common household oils aren’t toxic to beneficial pollinators like butterflies, birds, or bees for the most part.
So you don’t need to worry about them not visiting your lantana anymore because you sprayed it.
Even though lantana is pest resistant to most infestations, lace bugs are susceptible to damage.
What does a lantana lace bug look like?
Lace bugs are weird. If I had to describe them in one word, I would say “beetle.” They have a long, ovular body shape with two large antennas sticking out the front end.
Their body may have a distinct pattern that ranges from stripes to clusters. They can be black, brown, tan, orange, reddish, or even clear.
They have a lacy appearance on their back and will often be found on the undersides of leaves. They don’t exclusively feed on lantana- they also like to eat xyz.
Damage from them leaves your plants stippled, mottled, or yellowed. There are dozens of species and each one feeds on its favorite host plant.
How do I get rid of lace bugs on my lantana?
Here are some different DIY remedies to get rid of lace bugs.
Lace bugs tend to eat plants when it’s hot, dry, and sunny. They dislike environments that are wet or moist.
If you use compost or mulch in your lantana’s soil and evenly distribute it, it can help retain water and then discourage them from feeding.
Pruning is necessary to reduce lace bug populations by dozens at once.
Use sterilized pruners and cut out heavy portions of your infested foliage. Don’t be afraid of cutting it back. It’s a necessity to prevent the eggs from hatching.
Dunk each piece in soapy water and then dispose of it. Damaged or eaten portions should also be pruned.
Cutting lantana back and then combining it with a year-round essential oil can be effective to wipe them out.
The plant trimmings need to be disposed of properly. Don’t try to save the leaves. Your plant is wasting energy on these leaves. They could also be infested with eggs or lacewing larvae. Lantana lace bugs are the most destructive pest out of them all in my opinion.
Heavy pruning back to ⅓ of their original size up to ½ for extensive damage should be the first step. This eliminates a huge portion of the pests and will let your lantana grow back.
Lure natural predators
There are a bunch of beneficial insects that eat lace bugs. If you have them natively in your area, do some research on how to get more of them to your yard.
Some can be ordered online in bulk and then released in small batches as directed by the seller.
These predators will eat lace bugs:
- Assassin bugs xyz
- Pirate bugs
- Ladybugs (lady beetles) xyz
- Predaceous mites
- Jumping spiders xyz
- Lacewing larvae
What can I spray on Lantana?
There are a few sprays that are effective in eradicating lace bugs. For those that prefer sprays, here’s what you need to know.
Like most other pests on this page, neem oil works against lace bugs.
Dilute it as directed and spray when the sun is down. Water off your plant when done. The neem kills the lace bug larvae and will protect them from future infestations.
Neem oil is a narrow spectrum insecticide, which means that it only affects a few select species.
This is good for lantana because broad-spectrum insecticides will kill the beneficial predators that eat lantana lace bugs.
Commercial insecticidal soap
Along with neem oil, you can also use commercial insecticidal soap.
There are dozens of them on the market, so do your research and pick out a good one. Use natural or organic soaps if possible.
Note that using sprays won’t fix the damage that’s already been done.
However, it should prevent eh lace bugs from doing more damage by killing time.
If you see that the damage is still ongoing, consider switching your method. The current damaged leaves should be pruned and removed. Fresh leaves will emerge next spring.
Get rid of the lace bugs on your lantana before the next growing season or else it won’t be able to overwinter properly.
Aphids are the bane of any gardener’s existence. These tiny, winged insects will literally suck the juice out of your lantana’s stem, leaves, and flowers.
They don’t care about sucking on it until it perishes because all they want is food. Aphids are numerous and will overpopulate the planet until it’s teeming with them all over.
They also secrete a sticky honeydew just like xyz. This sticky substance brings ants to the plant.
Aphids can be controlled by using a combination of different approaches. Start with the regular cutting of infested leaves. The less food available, the fewer bugs it can support. Pruning makes a difference.
Like other flying pests, using stickies from your local hardware store works. You can use sticky tape or sticky traps that are designed just for aphids.
Did you know that?
You can buy these traps and then place them around your plants to bait them in and catch aphids passively.
Use as directed. They contain a pheromone that attracts them in and traps them by sticking to their tiny little feet.
They’re tiny with less than ⅛” in size, but they’re still easy to spot with their pear-shaped bodies and pair of long antennae. Their honeydew can stunt plant growth by blocking its ability to photosynthesize.
Aphids will also transmit plant viruses which can cause distorted leaves and drooping stems. Prune off any leaves that have aphid activity, as this means eggs are likely to present on the foliage undersides.
Use a horticultural oil or make your soap spray to kill them. Spray regularly and wash your lantana afterward. Repeat until the aphids are gone.
Using a hose with running water also works as they don’t have a good grip and will fall off. If you do this enough, it’ll disturb their environment to the point where they give up.
Aphids also drown easily because they have poor flight when soaked. Neem oil is also effective in killing aphids and their eggs.
See this guide for aphid control xyz.
Spiders are microscopic “spiders” that are usually nestling on the undersides of leaves.
They use piercing mouthparts to extract nutrients from the lantana leaves.
If you see a white silky webbing or yellow/gray stippling on your leaves, it’s likely the work of spider mites.
The flare-up in the hotter months will stay hidden from sunlight on the leaf undersides.
They don’t like the sun, so they stay out of sight in the shade. This can make them hard to spot as if they’re not already enough!
If the climate is dry or in drought, spider mites can cause extensive damage by making a leaf its permanent home.
Leaves will wilt, droop, or drop. They will also curl or yellow before they drop from your lantana. These are signs of mite infestations.
Use DIY sprays
To get rid of them, you can use horticultural oil, DIY dish soap, or insecticides. Rubbing alcohol spray also works. So does vinegar.
Spray with a 50/50 mixture of water and then scrub it off with a sponge. The sponge easily scrubs off the eggs, mites, and some grass. Sterilize the sponge if you plan to reuse it by soaking it in pure alcohol.
If you suspect you have spider mites on your lantana, here’s a guide for detailed instructions xyz.
These are soft-bodied pests that are usually hiding on the leaf veins.
They can be found on the surface OR the leaf bottom (most likely). Sometimes mealybugs may be hiding on the opposite side of the stems facing away from view.
They deposit eggs in huge clusters that are protected by a white material that feels like cotton or webbing. To the untrained eye, it’s easy to get them confused with spider mites or whiteflies which both deposit those webs.
Regardless, the sticky white material helps hide them from predators and needs to be dissolved before you get to them. There are a few ways to do this and the choice is yours.
Clear the webs
First, you can use rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) sprayed directly onto the webs. It should disintegrate readily and can be sprayed off with a hose or scraped off with any scraper.
You can substitute it with dish soap for insecticidal soap.
Once you get the webs off, you remove the eggs at the same time. The mealybugs may be found under the webs or on them.
Take the material and then dunk it ALL into a bucket of soapy water. This will eradicate the mealybugs, eggs, and any other bacteria/viruses that are within it.
Prune any damaged foliage
For leaves that have stubborn webs, prune it off and then sterilize it.
Don’t try to save those leaves. They probably contain dozens of mealybug eggs that will destroy your lantana in the future.
For additional tips on mealybug control, see this guide xyz.
You may find these resources helpful:
Did you get rid of the lantana pests?
You should now have a solid understanding of finding out what’s eating your lantana, how to get rid of it, and how to prevent it in the future.
Since this plant is resilient to most pests, it’s not that difficult to get it done. It all depends on how severe the pest problem is and how many lantana plants you have in your yard.
If you have any specific questions, please go ahead and post a comment. Or if you’ve had these bugs before and have some tips/tricks to share, please do so as well to help other readers.
Lastly, if you found this guide (somewhat) helpful (or not), let me know by dropping a comment!
Be patient and persistent.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.