Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Cacyreus marshalli
(pelargonium butterfly)



Cacyreus marshalli (pelargonium butterfly)


  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Cacyreus marshalli
  • Preferred Common Name
  • pelargonium butterfly
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Top of page
TitleAdult C. marshalli at rest
CopyrightJ.F. Germaine
Adult C. marshalli at restJ.F. Germaine


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898

Preferred Common Name

  • pelargonium butterfly

International Common Names

  • English: geranium bronze
  • Spanish: mariposa del geranios

EPPO code

  • CACYMA (Cacyreus marshalli)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Lycaenidae
  •                             Genus: Cacyreus
  •                                 Species: Cacyreus marshalli

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The genus Cacyreus belongs to sub-family Polyommatinae, it is close to Lampides Hübner, 1819 and Leptotes Scudder, 1876. The genus Cacyreus includes nine species; all are found in the Afrotropical area. C. niebuhri, the last described, is from Yemen (Eitchsberger and Stamer, 1990). The five species found in austral Africa are included in Clark and Dickson (1971). They are C. lingeus, C. virilis, C. palemon, C. dicksoni and C. marshalli. The latter three species require Geraniaceae for their development. The others species of the genus are C. audeoudi (equatorial Africa), C. ethiopicus (Ethiopia) and C. darius (Madagascar and Mascarenes).


Top of page Eggs
Whitish to light-yellow or brown eggs, 0.5 x 0.3 mm (Clark and Dickson, 1971; Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1991).

First-instar larvae have an average size of 1 mm which increases to 2 mm within 8 days. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th instars grow to 3, 6 and 13 mm, typically in 8, 8 and 9 days, respectively. The colour varies, with extremes of yellow and/or greenish shades with or without pink markings (Clark and Dickson, 1971).

Very hairy in shades of green, pale-yellow or brown, with brown mottling; 9 mm long (Clark and Dickson, 1971)

Female adults have a wingspan of 18-27 mm while male adults have a wingspan of 15-23 mm. C. marshalli has a bronze colouring on its upper surface with white spots on the fringe (Clark and Dickson, 1971; Sarto i Monteys, 1991).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


IsraelAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
TurkeyPresentSoyhan et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014
UzbekistanAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014


BotswanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
LesothoPresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
MoroccoAbsent, unreliable recordSarto i Monteys & Gabarra, 1998; Tarrier, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
MozambiquePresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
South AfricaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Canary IslandsRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SwazilandPresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
ZimbabwePresentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014


BelgiumTransient: actionable, under eradicationTroukens, 1991; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaAbsent, confirmed by surveyEPPO, 2014
CroatiaRestricted distributionMarko and Verovnik, 2009; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
EstoniaAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
FinlandAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
FranceRestricted distribution1997Leraut, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
GermanyAbsent, unreliable recordCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
GreecePresentParker, 2010; Martinou et al., 2011; Bella, 2014Corfu
GuernseyAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
ItalyRestricted distributionTrematerra et al., 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-SardiniaWidespreadEPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentEPPO, 2014
LatviaAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
MacedoniaPresentLangourov and Simov, 2017
MaltaPresentSammut, 2007; EPPO, 2014
MonacoPresentLeraut, 1997
NetherlandsTransient: actionable, under eradicationNPPO of the Netherlands, 2013; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
NorwayAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
PortugalWidespreadFuentes Garcia, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
RomaniaAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
SlovakiaAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014
SloveniaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
SpainWidespread199*Sarto i Monteys & Gabarra, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-Balearic IslandsRestricted distributionSarto i Monteys & Gabarra, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
SwedenPresentLindeborg, 2007
SwitzerlandPresentEPPO, 2014
UKAbsent, formerly presentHolloway, 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
-England and WalesAbsent, formerly presentCABI/EPPO, 2001; EPPO, 2014
UkraineAbsent, no pest recordEPPO, 2014

Risk of Introduction

Top of page C. marshalli is on the EPPO A2 quarantine list, but has not been regarded as a quarantine pest by any other regional plant protection organization. The example of the rapid establishment of C. marshalli on Mallorca, and its spread to the Spanish mainland shows that the pest has the potential to establish in the Mediterranean basin and can be considered as a real danger for European mainland. A predicted model shows it can establish in the Mediterranean Basin and the Atlantic coast from Portugal to the UK, its potential of establishment decreasing from south to north (Germain, 1999). Pelargoniums are extensively grown as ornamental plants throughout Europe, but Spain, France, Italy and North Africa, are at greatest risk since their climatic conditions would allow the pest to overwinter outdoors. Furthermore, breeding and propagation of pelargoniums plays an important economic role in this region. Elsewhere in Europe, the pest could establish in glasshouses (Baufeld, 1993).

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

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Lupi and Jucker (2005) have investigated the susceptibility of commercial cultivars of Pelargonium in northern Italy.

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Damage becomes most visible during the hot season when the larvae are most active. Flower damage is the more visible symptom. Flowers can be totally eaten by larvae. Damage can be seen on flower peduncles and is often associated with secondary damage by microorganisms that can also colonize the tissue around the entry hole of the larvae into the peduncles (Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1991). Stems turn black; the bored galleries by caterpillars are filled with excrement.

Leaves may be partially eaten by the larvae but this symptom is less frequent and can be confused with snails feeding (Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1991). Eggs can be found on leaves and flowers. Seriously affected plants may die as a result of the infection.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Inflorescence / internal feeding
Stems / internal feeding

Biology and Ecology

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Little is known about the biology of C. marshalli; it was first found in Europe in 1988, and only correctly identified in 1990 (Eitschberger and Stamer, 1990). It obviously did not cause significant enough losses in its indigenous area, southern Africa, to justify specific research. Favilli and Manganelli (2006) and Trematerra and Parenzan (2003) have studied the life history of the pest in Italy.

After its discovery in Mallorca, the Plant Protection Service of the province of Cataluña, Spain, started a research project on the biology of the pest (Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1992). The newly hatched larvae move into a flower bud by piercing a hole through the sepals. They remain concealed in the flower buds and feed on the flower tissue, where they produce a cavity as a result of their feeding. On reaching the third instar, the larvae leave the flower bud by initiating a gallery into the stem. At 20°C, the larvae complete their development to pupae in about 30 days and the pupal stage lasts about 17 days (Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1992). At lower temperatures, development is slower and it is assumed that the pest cannot overwinter in colder regions. At laboratory conditions of 20°C, no diapause has been observed and the generations follow each other continuously (Maso and Sarto i Monteys, 1991).

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page There are no known natural enemies of C. marshalli. Sarto i Monteys and Gaberra (1998) observed that Trichogramma evanescens can develop on the eggs of C. marshalli.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page The potential for natural spread is very low. The flight is short in duration, leisurely and interspersed with frequent rests. Eitschberger and Stamer (1990), therefore, excluded the possibility that the introduction into Mallorca was due to natural dispersal. The most likely means of international dispersal is the movement of infested plant material, since larvae cannot easily be detected because of their habitat within the stem (Sarto i Monteys, 1992). However, natural dispersal allowed the passage of the pest from Spain to France (Germain, 1999).

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx eggs; larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Growing medium accompanying plants larvae; nymphs Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Leaves eggs; larvae; nymphs Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches larvae; nymphs Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)


Top of page Little is known on the economic impact of this pest in its indigenous area. In Mallorca, 99% of pelargoniums are reported to be affected by C. marshalli (Sarto i Monteys and Maso, 1991). The pest rapidly spread to the other Balearic Islands (Sarto i Monteys, 1992). Following outbreaks on the Spanish mainland, the Spanish Plant Protection Services took measures to ensure that the pest was satisfactorily controlled in commercial nurseries. It is damaging on garden and house pelargoniums. In Spain, damage were very severe in 1997 and 1998, but in 1999 very little damage was observed. One or several autochtonous parasitoids could develop in immature stages of the butterfly. In the French mediterranean regions Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, C. marshalli is absent from nurseries, but damaging in parks, gardens and house pelargoniums (Germain and Sarto i Monteys, 2000). In Italy, it is present in Rome, from Campania to Latium, on the coast, also in Liguria.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page This pest can be localized on species of Pelargonium and Geranium; it needs one of these hosts to ensure its development. Search for eggs at flower bud level, or possibly at leaves. Caterpillars can be found inside the flower bud and in bored stems. Look for the entry holes of the caterpillar in flower buds and stems. These eventually become black. Other known species of Lepidoptera attacking Geraniaceae do not mine stems.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

According to the Spanish Plant Protection Service, Bacillus thuringiensis, diflubenzuron, flufenoxuron, hexaflumuron, lamda-cyhalothrin, alphamethrin and benfuracarb are efficient insecticides for the control of C. marshalli. In Cataluña, Trichogramma evanescens, a parasitoid, can develop on C. marshalli (Sarto i Monteys and Gabarra, 1998). In South Africa, species of Apenteles have been reported to kill 3rd instar larvae of the pest (Clark and Dickson, 1971).


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Baufeld P, 1993. Pest risk analysis of Cacyreus marshalli Butler (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) from a phytosanitary point of view. Nachrichtenblatt des Deutschen Pflanzenschutzdienstes, 45(12):257-262

Bella S, 2014. Invasive insect pests and their associated parasitoids on ornamental urban plants on Corfu island - Phytoliriomyza jacarandae Steyskal and Spencer 1978 (Diptera, Agromyzidae) a new record in Greece. Hellenic Plant Protection Journal, 7(2):53-59.

CABI/EPPO, 2001. Cacyreus marshalli. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, Map No. 574. Wallingford, UK: CAB International.

Clark GC, Dickson CGC, 1971. Life history of the South African lycaenid butterflies. Cape Town, South Africa: Purnell, 60-61.

Eitschberger U, Stamer P, 1990. Cacyreus marshalli, a new species of butterfly for the fauna of Europe? Atalanta, 21:101-108.

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

Favilli L, Manganelli G, 2006. Life history of Cacyreus marshalli, a South African species recently introduced into Italy (Lepidoptera Lycaenidae). Bollettino della Società Entomologica Italiana, 138(1):51-61.

Fuentes Garcia FJ, 1997. Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898, arrives in Portugal. Shilap, Revista de Lepidopterologia, 25(99):208.

Germain JF, 1999. Cacyreus marshalli, a new pest of pelargonium. PHM Revue Horticole, No. 402:36-40; 10 ref.

Germain JF, Sarto i Monteys V, 2000. Pelargonium perforating butterfly: hope comes from Spain. Lien Horticole 22 juin 2000, No.25/230, 9-10.

Holloway J, 1998. Geranium bronze-first record of British sighting. Butt. Coms.News, 67:12.

Langourov, M. S., Simov, N. P., 2017. New data on the expansion of the Geranium Bronze, Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) in the eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula, with some biological notes., (No.Supplementum 9), 301-304.

Leraut P, 1997. Liste Systématique et Synonymique des LépidoptFres de France, Belgique et Corse (2e Edition). Suplement a Alexanor. Paris, France: Alexanor.

Lindeborg M, 2007. Remarkable records of Macrolepidoptera in Sweden 2005. (Intressanta fynd av storfjärilar (Macrolepidoptera) i Sverige 2006.) Entomologisk Tidskrift, 128(1/2):19-32.

Lupi D, Jucker C, 2005. The butterfly Cacyreus marshalli in northern Italy, and susceptibility of commercial cultivars of Pelargonium. In: Plant protection and plant health in Europe: introduction and spread of invasive species, held at Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany, 9-11 June 2005 [ed. by Alford, D. V.\Backhaus, G. F.]. Alton, UK: British Crop Protection Council, 249-250.

Marchetti L, Togliani A, 2006. Fighting the lepidopter that is devastating geraniums. (Contro il lepidottero che devasta i gerani.) Colture Protette, 35(10):64-, 66.

Marko K, Verovnik R, 2009. First record of Cacyreus marshalli (Lycaenidae) from the Balkan Peninsula. Nota Lepidopterologica, 32(1):81-82.

Martinou AF, Papachristos D, Milonas PG, 2011. Report of the geranium bronze butterfly, Cacyreus marshalli for mainland Greece. Hellenic Plant Protection Journal, 4(2):31-34.

Maso A, Sarto i Monteys V, 1991. A butterfly threatens European pelargoniums. Cinecia y Tecnologia 23 Noviembre 1991.

Parker R, 2010. Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898 (Lepidoptera, Lycaenidae) newly recorded for Corfu, with notes on other butterflies on the island in September 2008. Entomologist's Gazette, 61(1):40-42.

Sammut P, 2007. Cacyreus marshalli Butler, [1898] reaches the Maltese Islands (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae). SHILAP Revista de Lepidopterología, 35(139):317-319.

Sarto i Monteys V, 1992. Spread of the southern African lycaenid butterfly, Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898, (Lep.: Lycaenidae) in the Balearic Archipelago (Spain) and considerations on its likely introduction to continental Europe. Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera, 31(1/2):24-34; 9 ref.

Sarto i Monteys V, Gabarra R, 1998. An Hymenoptera parasitoid of geranium bronze. Catalunya rural il Agraria, 46:24-26.

Sarto i Monteys V, Maso A, 1991. Confirmation of Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898 (Lycaenidae: Polyommatinae) as a new species for the European fauna. Boletin de Sanidad Vegetal, Plagas, 17(1):173-183

Sarto i Monteys V, Maso A, 1992. Remarks on the biology of a lycaenid butterfly, pest of pelargoniums, new to Europe (Lycaenidae). VIII European Congress of Lepidopterology, Helsinki, 19-23 April 1992.

Soyhan T, Baser S, Nazari V, 2013. First record of Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898 (Lycaenidae) from Turkey. Nota Lepidopterologica, 36(2):189-190.

Tarrier M, 1998. Cacyreus marshalli Butler, 1898, new species for France, Portugal and Morocco. Alexanor, 20(3):143-144.

Trematerra P, Parenzan P, 2003. Cacyreus marshalli, a butterfly spreading rapidly on geraniums. (Cacyreus marshalli, lepidottero in rapida diffusione sui gerani.) Informatore Agrario, 59(31):57-60.

Trematerra P, Zilli a, Valentini V, Mazzei p, 1997. Cacyreus marshalli, a South African Lepidoptera pest of cranesbill in Italia]. Informatore Fitopatologico, 7-8:2-6.

Troukens W, 1991. Cacyreus marshalli found in Belgium. Phega, 19:129-131.

Distribution Maps

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