What is eating the flowers of pansies and violas?

It can be extremely frustrating to find that after all the effort of purchasing and then planting garden displays of pansies and violas that the flowers become ragged and attractive, seemingly overnight! Usually there is little evidence of a culprit but it is likely to be the works of caterpillars, slugs or snails. The work or earwigs should also be considered


What is eating the flowers of pansies and violas?
Caterpillars will happily feed on pansy and viola flowers leaving ragged buds and petals. They will also leave torn leaves. Depending on the species, excessive damage can defoliate the pansies if not controlled. Finding the caterpillars themselves is easier said than done, but have a good look through the foliage

Biological controls include a soil bacterium known as Bacillus thuringiensis. This will control caterpillars without affecting beneficial insects, humans or mammals.

Chemicals controls are widely available in all good garden centres.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are also known eat pansy and viola blossoms and buds. but will also leave large holes in the leaves. Unless the slugs and snails are particularly small their presence can be identified by silvery mucus trails

Both organic and chemical controls are easily available. Slug pellets are easy to use and apply. Nematodes are an excellent organic method while others are a little hit and miss.


Earwigs are well known for eating blooms but are also notoriously difficult to find. Earwigs can be trapped using cans sunk into the ground filled with a little fish oil and then removed from site simply by emptying them every day. Alternatively set out some crumpled, damp newspaper, the dump the contents into a bucket of soapy water in the morning. Alternatively, empty out the earwigs a long way, away.

No comments: