A few key groups of animals eat strawberries: birds, deer, insects, and rodents. These wild animals are broadly responsible for most strawberry plant damage. There are a few other types of common pests but they are less likely. To protect your strawberry crops from each common pest, you’ll need a combination of chicken wire, fencing, mesh netting, and insect repellent. However, in most cases, you’re likely to only be losing strawberry fruit to one species of animal. Thus, if you figure out which pest you’re facing, you can use only one preventative to protect your garden bed.
5 Animals that Eat Strawberry Plants
The taste of strawberries is alluring to long lists of animals. Luckily, they can be broken down into a few key groups. Below are the most common groups of pests for wild strawberries.
Fruit-eating birds like blue jays love the sweet taste of strawberries. Among all wild animals, bird species are some of the most annoying pests to deal with due to their ability to fly. They can easily circumvent virtually all deterrents except for mesh netting. Get this mesh netting and drape it over your strawberry plant to prevent birds from devastating your berry crop.
Deer are more likely to target strawberry leaves than the berry itself. They can also wind up trampling your plants by mistake. However, this results in long-term damage to your strawberry crop. The best way to prevent deer from eating your strawberries is to fence off your garden. Deer can easily leap over smaller fences so you’ll need a fence that is at least 7 feet (2 meters) tall.
Insects like aphids, slugs, and the strawberry bud weevil will devastate your berry patch. They can severely damage your plants, leading to deformed strawberries and other health issues. The best way to prevent insect damage is to spray your strawberries with this natural insecticidal soap. This solution will kill or drive off these pests quickly.
Rodents, such as squirrels and gophers, are common pests in strawberry patches. However, many species of rodents will try to target these berries for their high sugar level. They can’t get enough of the sweetness of your berries. These pests can be kept away from your plants with tight, mesh fencing.
While the above 4 types of pests are the most common, there are some other known pests as well. These are less likely but might be worth knowing depending on where you live. This can include rabbits, raccoons, turtles, tortoises, certain lizards, and even cats.
- Rabbits, raccoons, turtles, tortoises, certain lizards, and even cats can eat strawberries.
- Fencing that stops birds and rodents will also keep these pests out.
Rabbits are the pests that are most likely to actually eat your strawberries. The other kinds of creatures are more prone to eating strawberries opportunistically when their preferred food cannot be found. Still, it’s worth knowing this list of animals just in case you are targeted by a less common pest.
How Do You Tell What is Eating Your Strawberries?
Telling which pest is devastating your herb garden will depend on a few telltale signs. Each species of animal that targets strawberries will leave behind different evidence of their act. Here is a handy breakdown for identifying the most common pests:
- Birds – only the berries will be gone, evidence of bird droppings will litter your garden.
- Deer – leaves and berries will be missing, and hoofprints and trampling damage will be visible.
- Insects – small holes will be visible all over your leaves and berries.
- Rodents – berries will be missing, and there may be rodent droppings nearby.
Usually, you will only see evidence of one type of pest in your garden. However, if you are attracting multiple pests, it will be hard to distinguish the damage. In such a case, consult with your local garden center about what the most common local pests are. Respond as if you are being targeted by the most common pest first and see if that solves the issue. Continue on down the list until you finally prevent pests from eating your strawberries.
How Do You Protect Strawberries from Animals?
Chicken wire is the go-to solution for protecting a strawberry plant from most land-based pests. If you want to protect your plants from birds, mesh netting is highly recommended. Lastly, insecticidal soaps and pesticides can protect from other common pests. Repellent sprays are another effective option.
- Use chicken wire to protect your strawberries from land-based pests.
- Use bird netting to protect them from flying critters.
- Use this organic insect repellent to protect strawberries from bugs.
A combination of all of these options is highly recommended in most cases. You may face multiple types of pests who can easily bypass one type of protection. By using multiple protective devices, you stand the best chance of fully protecting your strawberries.
What is Eating Your Strawberries?
With many types of creatures targeting strawberries, it can be overwhelming to keep them all straight. Luckily, we have this useful guide to remembering the most common pests and how to stop them:
- Birds are among the most common pests. They can be kept away with bird netting.
- Deer are fairly common but can be kept away with a fence that is at least 7 feet (2 meters) tall.
- Insects are a huge nuisance that require repellents and insecticides to stop.
- Rodents can be kept out with chicken wire or fine mesh netting.
- Each of these creatures leaves telltale signs if it is the culprit eating its way through your garden.
With this handy cheat sheet, you’re ready to identify pests in your garden and stop them. Remember that using multiple protective solutions is the best way to stop all pests.