What's eating my plants???

HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)June 7, 2013

Hi everyone! I'm having my garden raided by something. Not sure if its caterpillars, snails, earwigs, or something 4 legged. I have a cement patio, everything's in pots. Small yard with a small very steep canyon, totally open to the world back with no fence and houses down below and beyond that there is a small nature preserve. Privet bushes on one side for privacy from the neighbors, the other side is a little more open but there is a huge sawgrass that gives us some privacy from the other neighbor. We do get occasional critters. I've seen skunks, possums, squirrels, rabbits and coyotes in my yard.

The damage started last week. I had a pot of day lilies starting to bloom in a pot by the edge of the canyon. One opened flower totally disappeared. Just the flower. It looked like it got snipped off just under the bloom. No remnants left behind. I feed wild birds and I have a single squirrel that comes and roots around the feeder so I immediately thought it took the flower.

Two days later, I go to put a trellis on my raspberry vines and the vines are gone! The main plants are still there but the beautiful vines are chewed off the main plant and they are entwined into the privet bushes that they had been resting against. The vines have had most of the leaves chewed off. The couple of fruits on the bush are still there except for one fruit that looked like it had been snipped off about an inch from the fruit cap.

Now my strawberry plants are starting to get eaten. The fruits are left alone for the most part, it's the leaves being eaten. Some leaves are chewed off and left laying where they fall and some are completely gone.

Also, same pot of Lillys as the first missing bloom, three whole day lilly plants are snipped at the base and totally gone. No leftover remnants.

Last night they/it started on my alpine berries and I grew those from seeds so I am especially personally offended.

At first I wasn't totally sure when these events were taking place. But it does appear to be at night.

I did go out last night to look after it got dark but I didn't see anything. I'm going to try that again tonight and today I have the day off from work so I'm going to dig in my strawberry plant pots and see if I root up anything live. Whatever it is is doing pretty much one pot at a time so that is making me think more 4 legged. It's just strange damage and I would have thought if it was a possum that the fruits would be the prize.

I do have tomatoes, cukes, beans, peppers, etc....none of that is being messed with so far.

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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

The first Lilly taken

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:57PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

One of the blackberry bushes.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 12:59PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

Blackberry vines I found leftover. I pulled these out from the privet bush.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:01PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

Tristan strawberries with damage. Ignore the pot above it. That's cilantro that bolted when we had a heat wave a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:05PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

Another strawberry pot with leaves chewed off and left on ground

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:08PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

My top suspect would be deer. They'll eat you out of house and home, fruits and vegetables, and anything else tasty without a fence.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:13PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

Last nights damage. Sorry, I don't know how to post more than one photo at a time...yet. I'll figure it out :)

I'm thinking bugs here because all the damage in in the center of the strawberry pot. The satellite hole plants seem to be untouched.

Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:14PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

Forgot pic

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:15PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

In my gardens, that damage is from rabbits, usually.

If you've seen rabbits and have that particular damage, I'm thinking it's them. Or the squirrels, possibly, because the cuts do look like rodent damage, but I don't think the squirrels like the leaves like rabbits do. Squirrels will eat blooms.

Rabbits love my little roses with their fresh foliage, so I could see one eating a raspberry for its leaves, regardless of the thorns. It does look just like when my bunnies attack.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:16PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

PS: I forgot flowers and ornamentals. Deer love them all.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:24PM
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HeyJude2012(10b/24 San Diego)

I know it's not a deer. We have an HOA and no way those people would allow a deer to ravage their lawns and live to see another day. :))) But I have to laugh, my husband is city boy through and through. The first time he saw a coyote in our yard, he thought it was a deer. Lol. Not that I'm a country girl...I'm pretty darn citified. The preserve across from us is pretty small and there's a golf course. I've seen gazillions of rabbits and ground squirrels there. It would take much for one or more to migrate up this way.

I'm going to put my pots up on our patio table tonight and if there's no damage, I'll agree with rabbit. I'll still going to grub around in the soil though and see if I see anything buggy.

Can't believe how fast y'all are at answering! Thank you!!,

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:28PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Get one of those game cameras. You'll find out it's a deer. Do you really think a HOA has shot all the deer? By the way grass is one thing they don't eat.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 1:45PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Just a point on the id of your plants. I'm not sure if the pictures show what you are referring to as Day Lilies but if so, those are true lilies, Lilium, not day Day Lilies, Hemerocallis.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:19PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Oh, it could be a deer from the looks of it, but if you've actually seen rabbits, that's my first guess still. I'm so lucky and have both ;) And chipmunks that steal figs and green strawberries!

If it eats anything with heavier wood, you can tell by the chew marks whether it's a deer or rabbit. But in tender growth like that, I can't tell. If it's carried several feet away and plopped down to die, then it's a deer ;)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 2:33PM
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econ0003(10a CA / 8b CA)

Rabbits prefer grass to anything else growing in my yard. If you have a lawn I would guess that it is something other than rabbits.

I have had a with problem roof rats eating my trees/plants over the last year. They were on pace to defoliate a 4 year old nectarine tree that is about 8' x 8'. They defoliated an entire raspberry plant last fall.

A tell-tale sign of them is small twiggy branches cut off cleanly at 45 degree angles. Too hard for me to tell from the pictures if that might be it.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:52PM
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mrsg47(7)

My first guess would be deer as the cuts to the stems are clean. Second guess is rabbits. Squirrels seem to just go for the fruit and never seem to touch the leaves. I like the idea of the camera. Mrs. G

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 9:00PM
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