What Eats Viburnum? (5 Creatures That Eat Viburnum)

Got a pest problem – something chewing on your viburnum, perhaps? There are a few possibilities for who is to blame – it could be due to animals or insects.

So, what eats viburnum? Deer, rabbits, and birds will eat viburnum if they get hungry enough (and if there is no alternative). Aphids, flower thrips, spider mites, scale, and root weevils also eat viburnum, some causing curledor dropped leaves.

Many viburnum species can tolerate intense cold, so animals might turn to them for food in the worst part of winter

In this article, we’ll look at some of the insects and animals that might eat viburnum. We’ll also talk about some viburnums that have some resistance to these pests.

Let’s get started.

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What Eats Viburnum?

There is a variety of creatures that might eat viburnum, such as:

  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Birds
  • Various Insects
A variety of creatures may feed on viburnum if they get hungry enough.

Depending on the creature, it might have a strong taste for viburnum or just a passing interest when hungry.

Rutgers has a classification of plants that are resistant or susceptible to deer. Their rating system uses a scale of A through D.

A grade of “A” means a plant is rarely damaged by deer, while a grade of “D” means a plant stands to suffer frequent severe damage from deer.

One viburnum got a grade of “A” meaning it will rarely suffer any damage from deer. The variety is Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum).

Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum)
Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum) rarely suffers any damage from deer.

Several viburnum varieties got a grade of “B” meaning they will rarely suffer severe damage from deer. The varieties that were rated “B” include Viburnum prunifolium (Blackhaw Viburnum), Viburnum opulus (Cranberry Bush), Viburnum plicatum tomentosurn (Doublefile Viburnum), and Viburnum rhytidophyllum (Leatherleaf Viburnum).

Do Deer Eat Viburnum?

Deer will rarely eat viburnum – they will usually choose other plants if possible. In a harsh winter, when there are fewer green leaves to eat, deer just might decide to eat viburnum if they are desperate.

Deer will eat viburnum if they get hungry enough, which is more likely in winter.

One of the best ways to prevent deer damage to any plant is to build a proper fence – and this goes for any plant you want to protect. Another solution is to plant flowers that deer avoid, such as daffodils or poppies.

Usually, deer will chew on higher-up leaves and branches. If you see damage lower on viburnum, something else might be to blame.

(You can find lots of deer resistant plants for hedges here).

Do Rabbits Eat Viburnum?

Rabbits will eat viburnum on occasion, sometimes causing a lot of damage. Just like deer, rabbits will usually eat something else if it is available.

cottontail rabbit
Rabbits sometimes eat viburnum, but they will only cause damage on the lower parts of the plant.

Some species that may be more prone to rabbit feeding include:

  • Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice Viburnum)
  • Viburnum plicatum (Doublefile Viburnum)
  • Viburnum x juddii (Judd Viburnum)
Viburnum carlesii
Viburnum carlesii (Koreanspice Viburnum) is more prone to rabbit feeding than other viburnums.

Generally, rabbits prefer food other than viburnum. Still, they may opt for viburnum once in a while.

The best way to prevent rabbit damage to plants is to set up a fence. Or, set up chicken wire around an individual viburnum shrub to prevent damage.

Keep in mind that rabbits will try to eat lots of plants if they are get hungry (especially in winter). You can learn more about how to keep rabbits out of the garden here.

Remember that rabbits may nest in or near viburnum due to the shelter and cover it provides – even if they don’t eat it!

Do Birds Eat Viburnum?

Some birds will feed on viburnum berries – or use their foliage as shelter. For example, Viburnum trilobum (American Cranberrybush) often provides food for wildlife, including birds.

bird bath
Some birds will eat viburnum berries, while others will use the foliage as shelter.

Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry Viburnum) grows up to 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and it can offer a source of food for birds during winter.

Do Beetles Eat Viburnum?

There is a specific type of beetle that eats viburnum. In fact, the Viburnum Leaf Beetle feed only on plants in the Viburnum genus.

Viburnum Leaf Beetle
The Viburnum Leaf Beetle eats viburnum – and only viburnum!

If there are Viburnum Leaf Beetles feeding on your shrubs, you will see holes in the leaves from late spring through summer. Larva are yellow-green and later turn yellow-brown with black spots.

The larva may eat the leaves in spring, and adults may eat the leaves later in the season. If this continues long enough, the entire shrub may die.

According to Michigan State University Extension, these viburnums are susceptible to the beetle:

  • Viburnum dentatum complex (arrowwood viburnums)
  • V. nudum (possum-haw, smooth witherod viburnum)
  • V. opulus (European cranberrybush viburnum)
  • V. opulus var. americana (formerly V. trilobum) (American cranberrybush viburnum)
  • V. propinquum* (Chinese viburnum, Taiwanese viburnum)
  • V. rafinesquianum (Rafinesque viburnum)

While these viburnums are resistant:

What Else Eats Viburnum?

There are several other insect pests that might bother your viburnum.

Snowball Aphids most are found most often on European cranberry bush and snowball viburnum. They don’t usually cause much damage, but they can cause twisted or curled leaves on new growth.

Flower Thrips are another viburnum pest, feeding on both leaves and flowers. Their feeding causes leaves to curl or roll and then drop off the plant early.

When they feed on flowers, the flowers may die before they open.

Spider mites, Scale, and Root Weevils are other insect pests that may feed on viburnum.


Now you know what might be responsible if your viburnum is chewed up.

I hope you found this article helpful. If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

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Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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