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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 Florida, New Hampshire, Kansas, Maryland, Australia, and South Texas.

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

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.

Source

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 360º Rotating Head Owl Decoy - 18" Hand-Painted Fake Owl to Keep Birds Away - Realistic Pest and Bird Deterrent Owl
Gardeneer by Dalen Natural Enemy Scarecrow 360º Rotating Head Owl Decoy - 18" Hand-Painted Fake Owl to Keep Birds Away - Realistic Pest and Bird Deterrent 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)

Are the Squirrels Eating Your Strawberries?

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© 2011 Virginia Allain

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