Cacyreus marshalliButler

South African butterfly attacks geraniums in Europe

IDENTITY
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Name: Cacyreus marshalli Butler
Taxonomic Position:
Animalia: Arthropoda: Insecta: Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae
Common Names: Geranium Bronze

Significance:
The geranium bronze was accidentally introduced from probably South Africa into Mallorca around 1987 and has since spread to continental Spain and other countries in southern Europe. More recently, this butterfly has also been found in Holland and Great Britain. However, low temperatures apparently do not allow the establishment of populations there.
Though not a pest in its native range, this butterflly has caused serious economic damage to the Spanish cut flower industry. While it is possible to control this pest in the greenhouse, little can be done to prevent it from destroying the geraniums planted in people's yards and in public areas. Larvae feed inside flower buds and plant stems, thereby weakening the plant and introducing pathogens.

Issues of Concern: The geranium bronze has successfully invaded large areas in Europe. Eradication is almost impossible where ornamental and wild-growing geraniums are present. If introduced into North America, it could pose a threat to geranium production, as well as to certain wild-growing species of the genera Geranium and Pelargonium.

Pathways: cut flowers; (active dispersal)

Hosts: In Africa, the geranium bronze feeds on flowers of the genera Geranium and Pelargonium. Studies in Mallorca revealed that all commercial geranium varieties (which are actually hybrids of Pelargonium) were attacked. Preferred varieties were zonale and peltatum, while grandiflora and capitatum were less attractive. The caterpillars were able to complete their development on several wild geraniums of the genus Geranium. The genus Erodium, on the other hand, was rejected.

Distribution:
southern and eastern Africa; Spain; France; Portugal; Italy;

Detection Strategies
Plant stems, leaves and flower buds should be thoroughly checked for eggs, larvae and pupae, both on the surface and the inside.

OTHER INFORMATION:
References:
V. Sarto i Montenys. 1998. El taldaro de los geranios. Cacyreus marshalli, grave plaga de los geranios europeos: su biologia, sintomas y danos. http://www/ediho.es/horticom/tem_aut/fitopat/geranios.html

Useful Links:
Terralia.com
El mundo (newspaper)

Warning: The information in this archived item was not confirmed with the appropriate National Plant Protection Organization and is provided solely for informational purposes. Please use this information with caution.