Have your petunias, geraniums or million bells stopped blooming? Inspect the buds, if there are holes budworms are the likely cause. Budworms are small caterpillars that are generally green but can be red or brown depending on the color of the flowers they’re feeding on. They often go unnoticed until a plant, generally, petunias and geraniums, stop blooming since the caterpillars hide during the day under foliage or inside the bud itself. Budworms can also affect perennials such as coneflowers as well where they will eat the middle seedheads. The adult is an unassuming brown moth with waving lighter lines on its wings and overwinters as a pupa near foundations or inside of pots brought in for the winter.
Budworms are best controlled by a product containing Spinosad such as Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, a Permethrin product such as Hi-Yield’s Indoor and Outdoor or a Bifenthrin product such as Hi-Yield’s Bug Blaster 2.4.
*Please read and follow all label instructions when applying chemicals.