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Mystery bugs hardy geraniums ....normally trouble free, are under severe attack from a tiny caterpillar which I do not recognise. It's about 1 cm. long .....sort of greyish and very skinny and although very difficult to spot,( because so tiny ,so few of them and they tend to curl up ) they are decimating the leaves of some of my hardy geraniums , which are now beginning to look like filigree / lace work. They are eating tiny but plentiful holes in leaves and seem to be starting at  ground level and working upwards....have not yet reached new soft growth.....but it won't be long now!!! How do I control them ?.... they are so tiny and elusive that picking them off is not an option. Would prefer an organic solution if possible since I do not want to  affect beneficial insects if it can possibly be helped. Urgent suggestions needed please!!





  • XX Posts: 707

    Hi Tallulah

    it sounds like Geranium Sawfly, have you tried a pesticide based on pyrethrum?  Other organic option would be to cut the geraniums down to ground level and get rid of cuttings carefully and hopefully there would be time for them to regrow and flower again this year.  I'd give them a liquid feed as well.  Not sure if sawfly caterpillars live in the soil though so this may not work.

    I had a problem with leaf rolling sawfly on roses a couple of years ago and the best cure I found was to go out and pick off the rolled up leaves every other day before they had a chance to drop to the ground and re infected next years growth.  I did work but I had to make sure I was on the ball.  Over the following autumn and winter I hoed the soil now and again to uncover any that may have made it down to soil level and let the birds get them.

    Hope that's of some help or a starting point at least. image


  • SunnydayzSunnydayz Posts: 50

    Hi, yes I've seen them for the first time this year in a customers garden. If you can I'd try to remove them manually by hand but that depends how big your plant is .... you could be there a while. Removing the pest infested leaves and leaving untouched ones will mean constant surveillance on the rest though.

    Had berberis sawfly larvae a few years ago and they came back year after year! and did spray, but in the end got so fed up, took the plant out and replaced with cotinus. Hope your situation doesn't come down to that though. Good luck.

  • Jim MacdJim Macd Posts: 750

    Since you're posting in the wildlife section I really strongly urge you not to use any pesticide, even pyrethrum. Just enjoy them, be happy that you've got some little live bugs to feed the birds with. I'm growing nasturtiums this year JUST to attract cabbage whites and their larvae, I actually don't like the plant but the butterflies do and the birds like the larvae. Please don't get rid of them. Just accept them as part of lifes tapestry. If you attract other wildlife like frogs and hedghogs they'll all help keep down pests. I hardely ever see a hole in a leave and only ever get greenfly on campion, even my rose at the front is squeeky clean. Good luck.

  • patty3patty3 Posts: 129

    jim Macd

    oh how nice to know others out there are more with nature , than the chemical companys!! 

    Wildlife must come first .

     GOOD MANimage

  • Lindsay4Lindsay4 Posts: 34

    I'm with you Jim and Patty3! My Nastutiums (which I do like!) are being eaten by Cabbage White caterpillars but I am just letting them get on with it. Butterflies are doing badly enough without me killing off the caterpillars....I'm hopeless at dispatching anything though! I did however, aim the hosepipe full on at the cherry tree that was covered in black fly - it seems to have done the trick and the tree has been pest free for a few weeks now. It's all about balance really I think - try not to use any chemicals and let nature take it's course as much as possible where wildlife is concerned. As Jim says, a few plants can be sacrificed to let the insects feed and they in turn will attract the birds.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 19,921

    I've had a bad attack of Solomon's Seal sawfly. The birds weren't eating them and they were getting bigger and the leaves were fast disappearing. So I rubbed them of the leaves and squashed them. I don't like to use pesticides.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • Hear hear Verdun.

  • Lindsay4Lindsay4 Posts: 34

    I certainly wouldn't judge anyone for getting rid of the little blighters that are eating their plants - especially those special ones that have been carefully tended from seed, or have cost a fortune at the garden centre! I was merely stating that I like to strike a balance and let a few plants, such as some of my many Nasturtiums, be given over as food for caterpillars etc. If those pesky slugs run riot (slither riot?) as they did last year, then I will certainly be waging war again...even if I have to use a few pet friendly pellets! If the aphids go near my husband's memorial rose they will be spritzed the moment I see them. As I said, it's all about balancing things and judging how to react to what's being eaten by what!

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