What is eating my hibiscus leaves is a question that would have a number of answers such as ants, beetles and even fungi! It also means that you really care about your hibiscus plants, as you are concerned about the holes or paleness of the leaves.

What Is Eating My Hibiscus Leaves

You no longer have to be worried as this article will help you to identify the hibiscus pests that you should watch out for as well as offer you some great homemade products and methods to repel these pests.

What Is Eating Your Hibiscus Leaves?

Common hibiscus pests that you should watch out for are Japanese beetles, spider mites, ants, earwigs, deer, fungi, white flies, gastropods, and grasshoppers. In addition, it could be months, or butterfly caterpillars, as you would identify them from the way the leaf has been eaten.

– Japanese Beetles

These beetles are among the most colorful beetles that you will be seeing. They have shiny and colorful backs, and you just can’t help but look at them, smiling. However, you do not want these beetles near your hibiscus plants as they will spoil the leaves of the plants and destroy the plants’ appearance, especially the green leaves.

These beetles are mostly found on the upper leaves of hibiscus plants, and they will most likely stay on the leaves, particularly in the morning time. These colorful beetles are slow-moving, but they will surely eat the leaves and harm them.

– Hibiscus Sawflies

The hibiscus sawfly lays eggs on the plant, while adult insects do not eat hibiscus leaves, their larvae are very disastrous, and you should watch out for them.

You will spot them on the underside of the leaf and eating the green parts, not the veins. You could easily know it is this bug that is eating your hibiscus leaf as they would be tracing a lace-like shape on the green leaf.

These insects prefer and search for hibiscus plants, so if you have ever seen one on your hibiscus plant before, there is a high chance that they will return. The adults and black and look like flies, while the larvae are slender, green, and have black-colored heads.

– Spider Mites

You do not want spider mites near your hibiscus plants as they can make your plants sick asides from damaging their leaves.

In their large numbers, these mites will suck off nutrients and energy from your hibiscus plants, and your once lovely-looking plant will turn weak and pale. They do not have bite marks on the leaves, so you may not notice them quickly.

You can only spot spider mites if you carefully examine your hibiscus plant’s leaves. in order to inspect them, you must first hold some leaves and then turn them so that you can see their undersides.

If you see red organisms covered in a web-like substance, you can tell that the hibiscus has spider mites. Note that they spread easily, so you want to check other plants in the garden if they have been contaminated as well.

– Ants

Ants visit your hibiscus plants for multiple reasons. Some ants visit the plant to collect the leaves, while others may just be passing by. You do not need to ask “are ants attacking my hibiscus?” anymore as you will surely know that ants are responsible for the loss of your hibiscus leaves as they always form a trail through which you can see where they are going and coming from.

The leaf-cutter ants that collect leaves do not eat the leaves, however, use them to feed a fungus that they are growing in their colony. If such ants live close to your garden, expect them to visit your plants often, and your plant leaves to be eaten.

Pests are Eating the Leaves on My Hibiscus

– Whiteflies

Whiteflies look like little white specks of dust attached to the underside of the hibiscus leaves. The insects eat the leaves by sucking their nutrients, and they even live under the leaves.

If your hibiscus plants have chlorosis, the sickness when their leaves turn yellow, and the plant looks weak, start examining the underside of each leaf if you’d see whiteflies or not. These will be the ones responsible for eating the leaves, and harming the plant.

– Aphids

Aphids are very popular insects that attack so many types of plants, especially plants cultivated throughout the temperate world. Just like spider mites, aphids do not make bite marks in the leaves of hibiscuses, and this is not going to be a usual sign, because they will suck your hibiscus leaf juice and weaken the plant by taking in the nutrients.

Aphids can come in colors such as green and brown. They usually live in groups, so you will most likely see multiple insects on your hibiscus leaves. These insects do not just limit their diet to the leaves, as they also consume juices from the petioles and other soft parts of the plants.

– Moth and Butterfly Caterpillars

The caterpillars of lepidopterans such as moths and butterflies may be cute, but they are truly dangerous to your hibiscus plants. They eat the hibiscus flowers, leaves, petioles, and other soft parts of the plants. Note that when the mother insect is ready to lay her eggs, she looks for hibiscuses and other plants to lay her eggs on.

On the other hand, remember that if you can find one caterpillar in your garden, it means that there are more, so you only need to go closer to your plants to see more pests on them. These larvae are not so easy to remove from your garden because they can be so many, so it is best that you pick them off immediately after you see them.

– Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers are truly disastrous insects that no farmer or gardener wants near their plants. These insects would eat the leaves and provide big marks almost through half of it and not only to the hibiscus but to almost every cultivated plant, so you should prevent them from reaching your hibiscuses. These insects may be green or brown, hopping around the garden from leaf to leaf.

The best way to tell that there are grasshoppers in your garden is when you see and spot them in the garden. They operate during the day and are not difficult to spot. If you have trouble finding them, it may be because of their color, which mostly blends with the color of the leaf that they mostly eat.

– Gastropods

Mollusks or gastropods include animals such as snails and slugs. You may love to see garden snails in their beautiful shells, but you should prevent them from reaching your hibiscus plants because they are very dangerous.

On the other hand, just like many pests, gastropods mostly operate at night or early in the morning, so you can catch them in action when you visit your garden in the morning.

If you have a bush around or in your garden, there is a high chance that there are snails hiding beneath it. Well, gastropods are easy to kill or repel from your garden, so you do not have much to worry about.

– Fungi

Fungi such as powdery mildew and others can cause major damage to your hibiscus leaves, branches, and the entire plant. These fungi decompose the leaves from within, which means you want to be sure that your plants do not get infected by them. There are many types of fungi, and you can recognize them by the color of your plant’s leaves.

For example, the powdery mildew is ash or white and appears like a cluster of powder on your plant’s leaves. It moves from one leaf to another, and then from one plant to the next. If you have an infected plant, you want to isolate it first and then prune off the sick leaves and branches.


How To Grow Hibiscus Plants Safe From Pests

How to protect hibiscus from insects with pest control would be to hand pick them off the plants leaves, spread some neem oil on the leaves, you can make your own insecticide, you can water them out, use Bacillus thuringiensis, and even try local pesticides. 

– Handpicking the Pests

Take a look at the pests on your hibiscus plants. If you are not afraid of them, pick them up with your hands and dispose of them. You can also wear a hand glove if you like. The best way to keep your hibiscus plants safe from pests is to always examine the plant and remove every pest that you find on it immediately.

Prevent Leaves on Hibiscus To Be Eaten

Note that you need to properly dispose of the hibiscus pests so that they do not return. If you only throw the insects a few feet away from the plant, they will go back to the plant or any other one in your garden. Therefore, you should kill them or take them very far away from your garden.

– Make Use of Neem Oil

This oil comes from the neem seed and is an excellent product to pursue insect pests from your hibiscus plants. This oil has some properties, especially its harsh smell that helps it to repel pests easily, in addition, it won’t damage the plant, since it is also completely safe for your hibiscuses, and you do not need to fear that it will burn the leaves of the plant.

The negative side, however, of this product is that you may need to spray it or spread it on the leaves and soil around the hibiscus regularly, as its effectiveness fades off with time. To help save your energy and time, consider using this oil only early in the morning or later at night before you sleep.

– Making Homemade Insecticide for Hibiscus

These are special soaps made with non-special ingredients. These soaps which are very effective to repel insects and other similar pests are made from your dishwasher soap and water. You only need to mix the two to get the soap. If insect pests are disturbing your hibiscus, this soap is the best product to use.

While insecticidal soaps can effectively repel insects, they work best to kill or pursue the insects already present on the plant because the soaps can dry out quickly. This means that the effectiveness of this soap does not last for long. Only make use of it at the times of the day when you see pests.

– Bathing the Leaves With Water 

A cheap, but not-so-effective way to repel pests off your hibiscus leaves is to bathe the leaves with water, you can even use the hose to do so.

You need to increase the pressure of the hose if you want this method to be effective, and you would wash them off. What you must do is target the leaves with pests like spider mites, beetles, and other insect pests, and then spray them with water.

This technique will not harm your plants, so long as the water pressure is not too high. It is beneficial for plants because you are helping them to clean their leaves as well as giving them water. Note that bathing your hibiscus with water is best done in the morning.

– Make Use of Bacillus Thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria is BT is a gram-positive bacterium naturally occurring in the soil in some parts of the world. This bacterium is toxic to many insects when they eat it and can lead to their death instantly. The bacterium is very effective against insects and insect larvae that attack your plants from the soil.

Note that Bacillus thuringiensis is not toxic to you, your pets, and other mammals. It is only toxic and has been used as a repellent against insects. You can get it from a local gardening store. However, you must make sure that you follow the instructions and only use the bacteria when you are sure that you are fighting soil-borne pests such as beetle larvae.

– Make Use of Store-Bought Pesticides

Well, the most effective way to protect your hibiscuses from pests is to buy a pesticide product that has proven to work from the store. However, note that most store-bought pesticides are inorganic, so you may not want to use them, especially if you have an organic garden.

Get rid of pest infestation on Hibiscus Leaves

Also, note that these products do not just kill pests, they can also kill beneficial insects such as pollinators and ladybugs that are visiting your hibiscuses. Before you search for any product to buy, remember to first know the pest attacking your leaves so that you can buy a product for that specific pest.


How do I control leaf mites on Hibiscus?

Control leaf mites on Hibiscus by regularly spraying neem oil solution, maintaining humidity levels, and removing affected leaves.

Can I propagate Hibiscus with holes?

Yes, propagate Hibiscus with holes by taking stem cuttings with at least two nodes and placing them in well-draining soil or water.

Does fertilizing my Hibiscus stop it from being eaten?

Fertilizing Hibiscus helps improve its overall health and resilience, but additional measures like using organic pest control methods may be necessary to prevent it from being eaten.


Now that you can identify and repel your hibiscus pests, here are some takeaways:

  • Many pests that attack hibiscus plants do so at night, so you want to monitor the plant at night.
  • You can catch the pests attacking your plants at night by keeping a log or rock on the ground just close to the plants. The pests should be under the object in the morning.
  • Insecticidal soaps are effective products to pursue or kill pests already on your hibiscus leaves, and it is homemade.
  • Not all pests will cause bite marks on the hibiscus plants, so you want to turn the leaves over to observe if they have pests or not.
  • If you know the pest attacking your hibiscus plant, you can opt for getting its pesticide from a store.

After knowing what animals eat hibiscus plants, you must make sure to grow a pest-free and beautiful hibiscus garden.

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