Yellow Poplar Weevil on Tuliptree

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Yellow poplar weevil (Odontopus calceatus) is a snout beetle that causes mostly cosmetic damage on tuliptree (also known as yellow poplar and tulip poplar), sassafras, and certain magnolias. I noted damage on tuliptree this past week while also noting developing cicada tree flagging also occurring on tuliptree. Damage on tuliptree leaves includes little bean-shaped scar-like pits in leaves due to epidermal feeding by the weevil adults and larger leaf blotch mines by the weevil larvae. Damage is usually just cosmetic, but in outbreaks may result is a scorched appearance to the upper half of young magnolia trees in landscapes and nurseries.


The term “yellow poplar” for tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera) is a misnomer on several fronts, as tuliptree is neither a poplar tree (in the unrelated Populus genus and in a very different plant family as well) nor obviously is it a tulip. The leaves and flowers of this towering tree though, look tulip-ish.  As Dave Shetlar notes in his OSU Bug Doc Fact Sheet Series (just Google yellow poplar weevil), management in horticultural situations can include a range of factors, including cultural controls through limiting volunteer sassafras seedlings, the dull roar of natural biological control by parasitic wasps and parasites, and insecticide controls for adults and larvae where considered necessary.