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What's Eating the Strawberry Plants

Updated on April 4, 2015
Virginia Allain profile image

Virginia has years of experience with gardening and wild pests in New Hampshire.

Ohh, it's perfectly ripe and ready to pick.
Ohh, it's perfectly ripe and ready to pick. | Source

Missing Strawberries, Nibbled Strawberries, Holes in Leaves - Something Is Eating the Strawberries

It's disheartening to start a strawberry patch and eagerly wait to pick those first plump, red berries, only to find out that some garden pest beat you to that juicy strawberry. Before you can take action to prevent the loss of your strawberries or the strawberry plants, you need to figure out what is eating them.

I'll show you what to look for, so you can determine which pest is pestering you and your plants. I'll also provide some deterrents, both humane and more lethal, so you can choose a way to save some of those luscious strawberries for yourself.

I hope you figure out with my tips who the culprit is and take steps to protect the strawberry patch.

(photo by Virginia Allain)

Missing Leaves and Stems?

Deer eat the leaves off the strawberry plants, leaving just the stems and the berries. You may notice deer tracks in the soil or in the mulch of the strawberry bed. It happened to me.

Here's a Clue - Deer Tracks

The tracks on the right are definitely from a deer.
The tracks on the right are definitely from a deer. | Source

This Helps Keep Deer out of the Garden

Plantskydd Deer Repellent - 1 lb.
Plantskydd Deer Repellent - 1 lb.

I didn't want to build a fence to keep deer away, so this product seemed like a good solution.


Have the Deer Been in the Strawberry Patch?

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Dealing with Pests in the Strawberry Patch Naturally - Video from YouTube

Animals and Insect Pests in the Strawberry Patch - From large to small, there are many critters who like strawberries

  1. deer
  2. chipmunks
  3. squirrels
  4. turtles
  5. birds
  6. mice
  7. sow bugs

Have You Seen Sow Bugs in Your Strawberry Patch? - These are also called roly-poly bugs

As you pick the berries, raise up the green berries so they aren't right on the ground. This deters the sow bugs.


Graphic from Zazzle: Lone Sow Bug by freakyfrobro

Have the Sow Bugs Been in Your Strawberry Patch?

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Deal with Sow Bugs and Slugs

Slugs may not be that visible since they hide from the hot sun. Look under leaves and in shady, damp areas. A slug looks like a snail who has lost his shell.

One tip-off is seeing the telltale slime track that a slug leaves behind.

I use a simple container with water (use a can or a jar) and put dish detergent in it. Scooping up the slugs with a piece of cardboard or a kitty litter scooper is easy. Just dump them in the soapy water which kills them. Dump the container the next day and repeat the process with fresh water and detergent.

If you don't want to collect them this way, try something like this:

Have You Seen Slugs in the Strawberry Patch?

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Snakes Eating Strawberries? Turtles Do - Short Video - What's Eating My Strawberry Patch?

Turns out, I was wrong thinking that snakes didn't eat strawberries. A visitor to this page reported that both she and her neighbor had seen snakes eating their strawberries.

Look Around for Turtles or Tortoises

You can pick these up (carefully) and move them out of your yard. Some tortoises like this one are endangered species, so be careful that you don't harm it. This one is called a gopher tortoise and it lives in Florida.
You can pick these up (carefully) and move them out of your yard. Some tortoises like this one are endangered species, so be careful that you don't harm it. This one is called a gopher tortoise and it lives in Florida. | Source

Will a Mouse Eat a Strawberry? - Here's Video Proof

Mice Are Afraid of Owls

Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow Rotating Head Owl
Gardeneer By Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow Rotating Head Owl

Scare the mice away from your garden with a realistic, moving owl decoy. There are even ones that flap their wings or with glowing eyes.


Do Chipmunks Eat Strawberries?

A chipmunk in my yard, eating my strawberry. Grrr...
A chipmunk in my yard, eating my strawberry. Grrr... | Source

I've seen them with my own eyes, not just snitching the strawberries, but sitting there nibbling away at one. They will even take the green ones once all the ripe strawberries are gone. I was picking all the half-ripe ones to try to forestall them, but even that didn't work once they started taking the green strawberries.

My husband even stomped around in the garden and waved his arms, but the chipmunk kept nibbling away. Finally as he got closer, the little fellow took his strawberry and ran off.

Video Proof That They Do

Here's What Deters Chipmunks from a Strawberry Patch - Capture Them in a Havahart Trap

Then take them far, far away. This is what works for me. I usually trap about 8 or 9 chipmunks each summer. Start early in the spring before they have their young, then you won't need to trap so many.

squirrel with strawberry
squirrel with strawberry | Source

A Squirrel with a Strawberry from My Patch

June 30, 2011

I ran out several times waving my arms. Finally I settled for a photo op and grabbed the camera. This is the resulting photo.

(photo by Virginia Allain)

Products to Deter Squirrels from the Strawberry Patch

Are the Squirrels Eating Your Strawberries?

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© 2011 Virginia Allain

How's Your Strawberry Patch Doing?

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    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I might need a net like that for my blueberries.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 2 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      The squirrel, chipmunk and even the mouse are so cute eating the strawberries! Of course they'd eat mine if I grew any (and the deer too). My brother-in-law grows strawberries and he has a whole net contraption over them so the critters (including birds) don't get them all.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @hntrssthmpsn: I just avert my eyes as I dump my can of soapy water and slimy slugs.

    • hntrssthmpsn profile image

      hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

      For the last 2 years and change, I've been learning to garden in "the city" (read: the suburbs) after a life of rural living. While there's a lot I miss about my big gardens in the boondocks, I do enjoy the relative scarcity of garden invaders. The deer, particularly, while nice to look at, filled the gardener in me with white hot rage on many occasions. Slugs and snails, though, are the one sort of pest that seems far more plentiful in my suburban yard than they were in my country gardens! I've been using beer traps with pretty good results. I'm shamefully squeamish about handling the dead slugs and snails, so I empty the little lids full of beer into the compost every morning before I drink my coffee. That way I'm not awake enough for the full grossness of the situation to sink in.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      After viewing this site I'm pretty sure the chippies and squirrels have been eating mine. But for the record, my friend has a patch too, and we have both personally seen snake chomping them.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      @PNWtravels: It was a tussle this year between us and the chipmunks to get the strawberries picked. The red squirrel chomped a few as well.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 5 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      I've been growing my strawberries in pots to help prevent the other critters from eating all of them and so far so good for the most part! Excellent ideas for keeping thieves from getting all of your crop!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 5 years ago

      Great job on this informational site. Thanks

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 5 years ago from Colorado

      I plan to foil the strawberry thieves by growing my plants inside the greenhouse. I should be able to avoid most pests indoors (with the help of beneficial insects like ladybugs). Ladybugs don't eat strawberries, do they??? Thanks for the great tips.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We used to have a strawberry garden when I was growing up. Yummy, to go tend that garden. About 15 miles from me there is strawberry farm where people can go and pick as many strawberries as they can use. Its become a tradition to go.

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 5 years ago

      Great information! The chipmunks are adorable!!!

    • M Schaut profile image

      Margaret Schaut 5 years ago from Detroit

      I love fresh strawberries, and my uncle grows an amazing patch of them. Nice lens, if and when I decide to grow some, I'll check this out again.

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 5 years ago

      We have squirrels and raccoons... it's amazing we manage to harvest anything.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Strawberries are one item I've not tried to grow. We don't have squirrels or deer here so I wouldn't have to worry about those. Hmmmmm By the way, thank you for posting your polls so everyone can answer. By adding "I don't grow strawberries, I was able to participate." :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Very informative. We haven't grown strawberries in awhile. The groundhogs have about destroyed everything in our garden for the last couple of years. They are really getting plentiful in our neck of the woods.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Chipmunks will eat jalapenos, so of course they will eat those luscious strawberries! Cute and informative lens for those who raise a garden in general, and those who raise strawberries in particular.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I'm partial to the baby chipmunk with the strawberry. Adorable!

    • profile image

      jseven lm 6 years ago

      Very informative and yummy looking lens. :)

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 6 years ago

      What a delightful lens! I loved all of the videos and that photo of the squirrel with your strawberry is great (think Zazzle?).