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What Eats Geraniums? [9 Most Likely Culprits]

If you have a beautiful garden in your backyard that is full of sweet-smelling geraniums, you likely want to do whatever you can to keep them safe and pest-free. In this article, we will be taking a look at what eats geraniums, and ways to deter them. 

Thankfully, most mammals do not like the texture of geraniums, so your main culprits are likely insects, but in some cases, rabbits, deer, rats, and javelinas will take advantage of easy meals, so we will talk about how to keep them away as well. 

1. Budworms

Budworms are the larval stage of the owlet moth. These caterpillars often host on geraniums and female moths will lay their eggs on the underside of the geranium leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars make their way to the buds of the plant and eat them from the inside out. They will also frequently eat the leaves of the plants as well. 

To prevent budworms from dominating your garden and mutilating your geraniums, you have a few options. If you want to keep your garden natural and pesticide-free, you can check the undersides of your plant’s leaves for moth eggs. Remove any leaves that have noticeable eggs and dispose of them. You can also check the plants at dusk and remove any caterpillars you see. 

If the direct approach isn’t working, or if you don’t have the time, you can also apply a bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis. This bacteria will infect the caterpillars and kill them, but it only works on immature larvae. So combing this method with manual removal is ideal. 

2. Grasshoppers

If your backyard is anything like mine, you will be battling grasshoppers. Grasshoppers can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time, so your garden could already look pretty sad by the time you notice they are there. 

Thankfully, grasshoppers hate garlic and hot peppers, so the best defense against these insects is a mixture of garlic spray and ghost pepper powder. This should repel most grasshoppers that come into your yard and leave the brave ones very unhappy. 

3. Aphids

Another common pest found on geraniums is aphids. These insects are very small green insects. They like to feed on the sap of the plant and are very good at hiding in plain sight. If you notice your plant’s leaves seem to be curling, that is a sure sign that aphids are present. Check the leaves and the stem for signs of aphids and begin to treat. 

The ideal treatment method, in my opinion, is to release native ladybugs into your garden. Ladybugs love to eat aphids and they can usually clear up an aphid infestation in a very short amount of time.

Unfortunately, native ladybugs can sometimes be hard to source, and non-native ladybugs can actually cause a lot of damage to the ecosystem, so if you aren’t able to find native species, it’s best to try another removal method. 

Another great option is neem oil. This can be applied every few days and should get rid of aphids rather quickly. Continue treating for 2 weeks after you think the aphids are gone, to be sure. 

4. Rats

No one wants to think there are rats in their garden, but rats are frequently found in suburban and urban areas. While rats aren’t known to eat the entire geranium plant, they will often feed on the buds and can cause damage to the plants by climbing on them. 

If you think rats could be a problem in your backyard, you could try placing baited live traps among your geraniums. If you catch some rats, you can either take them to your local animal shelter to be euthanized or you can release them away from your home. 

Planting your geraniums somewhere rats can’t reach them is also a good option, so hanging baskets or islands in artificial ponds are perfect. 

5. Rabbits

Rabbits, like most mammals, do not like the taste or texture of geraniums, but they will eat them if they don’t have anything else to eat. The best way to keep rabbits from your geraniums is to plant them somewhere the rabbits can’t reach them. Raised beds protected with chicken wire, or hanging baskets seem to be the best bets for keeping rabbits from your flowers. 

6. Deer

If you live in a suburban area, it’s unlikely you will end up with deer in your yard, but if you do, it’s likely because they are having a hard time finding enough food to eat. Deer don’t particularly like to eat geraniums, but will if they feel they need to. Hanging baskets and raised beds with chicken wire can be good deterrents for deer, as can hanging fabric softener sheets throughout your plants. These sheets will put off a pungent smell that will repel the deer and confuse them. 

7. Javelinas

If you are in the Southern United States or Mexico your geraniums could be in danger from javelinas. Like the other mammals on this list, geraniums aren’t their favorite food, but it will do in a pinch. Preventing them from eating your flowers is the same as deer and rabbits. Raised garden beds with chicken wire and hanging baskets. 

If you enjoy having wildlife in your backyard and you have some money to spare, another option would be to place hay in your backyard. Rabbits, javelinas, and deer would all much rather munch on hay than your garden plants and will appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

8. Japanese Beetles

While Japanese beetles will occasionally snack on geraniums, they shouldn’t be a long-term problem. Geraniums are mildly toxic to Japanese beetles and they usually won’t eat from the plant more than once.

9. Pollinating insects and birds

Before adding insecticides or harmful chemicals to your garden, it’s important to remember that pollinators also harmlessly feed on your geranium flowers. Hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial animals can be harmed if they feed on the nectar or pollen from plants that have been treated with insecticides. It’s always best to try natural remedies before chemicals.