Great geraniums this year until visited by small brown butterflies

09/06/2009 - 17:53

Great geraniums this year until visited by small brown butterflies - result flower heads dying followed by miserable appearance of whole plant. Symptoms - voids in the stems of both pelargoniums and ivy-leafed varieties with black frass and a hole where egg laid. Any one else think things worse than usual this year and what is your favourite treatment?



Are these geraniums or pelagoniams?Small butterflys could be BROWN ARGUS or COPPERS or SKIPPERS- none are known to lay eggs on these plants or otherwise damage them and I think their beaty at least rivals that of the flowers so why not live and let live?

Yes of course I am talking about pelargoniums, silly me, and I am afraid the said butterfly is argus sized but is an alien species which has multiplied hugely and is now the commonest butterfly in the Rome area and due to its devastating effects on pelargoniums is not on my list of protectable species!

It sounds as if it could be the South African copper butterly which attacks both geraniums and pelargoniums by laying eggs and the larvae destroy the flowers. It has invaded many Mediterranean areas, particularly the Balearic Islands, but you know how these pests tend to spread.

Here are some photos which may help:

The variety that attacked my pelargoniums in Marbella (Spain) a few years ago was similar and small in size. The damage caused was big. I had to replace all the plants and have the old ones burnt. The little monsters are already well established in the Mediterranean basin, so it would not surprise me to find them in Italy. I was also told by a knowledgeable gardening neighbour to keep watering down as it seems to attract the butterflies. Here is another site where you can see the damage it causes. Identical to what I experienced.

You will find plenty of information if you search Google using the words: geranium, bronze butterfly or through geranium pests.