What is Eating My Pansies? | 6 Pansy Pests & How to Control Them

Pansies can be attacked during the day and night by a variety of pests including sap sucking aphids, thrips and mites as well as chewing pests like snails, slugs and caterpillars. Most pests can be controlled naturally to protect your pansy flowers and leaves. Neem oil is a great tree extract that helps to treat aphids, thrips and mites.

This article will explore the most common pests that will eat pansies during the day and night. Each of them has natural options to control them. Controlling pests is essential because small pansy plants can be eaten within a night if they are not delt with.

Top Pests That Eat Pansies and How to Control them

Here are the most common pests that will eat your pansies during the day and night. Check out the easy solution to each pest problem that is natural and will not hurt other plants, birds or lizards.

1. Aphids

Aphids are one of the most common pests that will suck the sap from the veins of the pansy leaves. This will cause the leaves to curl, eventually turning yellow and they can eventually kill the plant. Aphids are small, green bugs that can reproduce rapidly.

Ladybugs will naturally arrive and eat aphids. A ladybug can eat over 100 aphids in a day and can quickly devour a whole population of aphids. Once the number get large however ladybugs will not be able to control the population on their own.

Neem oil is the easiest way to control sap sucking insects like aphids. Neem oil can be purchased in a concentrated form and then diluted and sprayed on your plants. Applying this once or twice is usually all that is needed to get rid of the aphids.

Neem oil is a concentrated extract from the neem tree. A small bottle will last you many years and can eb used to treat a range of sap sucking insects on pansies as well as citrus.  

2. Slugs

Slugs are a chewing pest that will arrive on your pansies at night and will chew on the edges of the leaves. Slugs will find a home, buried under the organic matter on the surface of the soil. They hide in mulch and will venture out when the sun goes down.

Slugs crawl up pansy leaves and stems and will start to chew. They can devour a whole, small pansy seedling in one go overnight but it will take them longer to get through your larger plants.

Some slugs will target the flowers, others love to eat the leaves. To control slugs the easiest way is with a beer trap. Fill a shallow tray with some beer and place it near your plants. The slugs will crawl their way in and drown. They are attracted by the beer and will seek it out.

3. Snails

Snails are another common pest that will attach pansies. They often attack pansies grown close to the ground or in ground soils as they are easier to access than those in pots or hanging baskets.

Snails usually attack plants at night but can be caught on your plants in the early morning. Small snails will take small bites from the edges of leaves, large snails can eat whole leaves and stems.

Snails can be caught by beer traps in the same way that slugs are. You can also crush up egg shells and place them around the pansies. The snails won’t like crawling over the sharp egg shells. Bake the egg shells in the oven for 10 minutes to dry out the egg shells and make them easier to crush.

4. Spidermite

Red legged spidermite can eat pansy plants sucking the sap from the stems and the leaves. These tiny red and black spidermite usually cover the stems and can be identified by looking out for tiny black dots.

These bugs reproduce fast and can quickly cover the whole stem, turning it black. Spidermite can be treated with neem or eco oil. These oils will coat the bugs and kill them over time. This can save your plant before the bugs take over.

5. Thrips

Thrips are another sap sucking insect that can take over the pansy plant and kill it quickly. These tiny white or brown bugs can destroy pansy plants and kill them off quickly.

Thrips can be treated the same way as aphids and spidermite with a neem oil or eco oil. You can also make a detergent mix with basic organic dish detergent mixed with warm water. Spray it over the whole plant and the thrips in the early morning. Repeat again after 2-3 days to treat all of the bugs.

6. Caterpillars

Caterpillars will crawl their way onto your new pansy plants and start chewing on the leaves. Caterpillars are essential for the beautiful butterflies that visit our yards but they can quickly destroy the pansy plant.

I like to deal with caterpillars by removing them from my small plants to another area of my yard. They will do little damage to large, established plants but can eat a pansy seedling quickly. Rather than spraying caterpillars, picking them off with garden gloved hands is the easiest way to deal with them.

7. Squirrels

Squirrels will look at pansies as a tasty treat and will nibble on leaves, flowers and stems. While this is not their favorite food, during times of food scarcity they will eat young pansy seedlings at the start of fall.

For more on how to protect your pansies from squirrels, check out my article here: Do Squirrels Eat Pansies? | How to Keep Squirrels Away

What is Eating My Pansies? | Summary

Pansies can be eaten by chewing bugs like caterpillars, slugs and snails, or sap sucking insects such as aphids, thrips and spidermite. Treat bugs quickly if they are taking over your plant before they eat too many healthy leaves. As the plant matures, it will naturally become more resistant to pests.

Pests will attack plants that are struggling. Plant pansies in good soil that drains well. Fertilize with pelleted chicken manure when first planting and then follow up with some flower promoting fertilizer. This will help to grow a healthy, hardy plant which is resistant to pest attack.

Happy growing.