The Butterfly Dilemma!

Apparently Domaine de Sainte Rose is the butterfly and moth capital of the Herault!  In a departmental-wide survey conducted by one of our Viticultural suppliers it seems we have the highest number of moths and butterflies in our vineyards than any of the other Domaines involved!  Butterflies and moths are active pollinators and can help maintain controlled plant growth.

This is great, you think, as it shows what a vibrant ecosystem we have on the Domaine.  We agree, and are very proud of the diverse flora and fauna coexisting with our vines but butterflies and moths bring with them a potential risk and must be watched closely to ensure they do not ruin the grape harvest.

Within the growing season of the vine, there are usually 3 generations of butterflies and moths.  The first generation (those in the above survey), are of no danger to the vine as it grows through bud burst to flowering.  Second and third generation larvae can however invade the grapes as they begin to form.  The larvae munch their way into the developing bunches and the cavity they create within the berry can cause botrytis bunch rot.

How therefore do we avoid this potential fruit damage?  There is not a straight-forward answer to that question as moth larvae attacks on the berries are irregular thus the high incidence that we have on our property does not automatically mean that we will have a problem later in the growing season.

Some people would start spraying insecticide now, just in case!  We however will watch and wait!  Careful monitoring is essential and if a problem arises the use of feeding traps or pheromones and the introduction of natural predators can reduce the population.