Something is eating my strawberry leaves

srilunewgardenerMarch 17, 2009


I planted some strawberry bare roots in a large bin in Jan. They were doing good until last month. I was not in town for two weeks in Feb and asked a friend to water them. I think she watered them well. But by the time I returned almost all the leaves are gone. After that the plants get new leaves and they disappear over night. Looks like something is eating the leaves. I don't see any bugs in the bin. I have some snails. But I didn't see any snail inside the bin. Don't know what is eating them and how to prevent them from eating. Looks like some of the plants don't even have crowns now. They are not getting any new leaves at all. Please help me with this.


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There are plenty of nocturnal night marauders that come above ground at night and hide away during the day.

Snails and slugs do this, as you are aware. Could be that they are climbing into the bin at night and going back to wherever they came from during the day.

More than that, there are sowbugs, pillbugs, earwigs, cutworms and, yes, strawberry root weevils.

Wait a few hours after sunset and take a flashlight with you. Sneak up on the bin because some of these critters can "feel" you coming.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2009 at 10:38PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

I vote for snails and slugs. They have been clocked at 13 feet an hour. Think how far they can go overnight. I have tracked them crossing the street to a favorite food. Al

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:32AM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Here it is usually pillbugs or snails/slugs. The leaves are usually very ragged.

If the leaves are cleanly snipped off and the whole leaf is gone, that could be a (excuse my french) *#%@$& rabbit.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 12:02AM
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I'm thinking peter rabbit also. I had them eat Lantana to the ground. It's probably early in the morning they are out.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 1:29AM
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Thank you for the responses. It cannot be squirrels or rabbits as I don't have any rabbits here and I closed my balcony from all the sides. I am almost sure that they are snails. The leaves are very small. Sometimes the whole leaf disappears and sometimes a part of it will be gone. I have the same problem with other plants too. I spotted the shiny trails on some of the remaining leaves and inside the pots. Is there a way I can prevent the snails from entering my balcony. I don't want to use any chemicals or kill them. I appreciate your time.
Thank you.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 2:26PM
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You could put crumpled up eggshells into the pot around the strawberries, I have heard they are sharp enough to keep snails away. Same for cocoa mulch which seemed to work pretty well until I learned that cocoa gets sprayed with all sorts of stuff that remains on the hulls :-(.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 8:06PM
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I don't have egg shells now. Is there any alternative that works.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 1:39AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

It depends on the construction of your balcony. A copper strip about two inches wide will stop them if it is possible to completely enclose the area with it. I have been able to buy it at metal salvage yards a lot cheaper and more durable than that sold in garden centers. Al

    Bookmark   March 21, 2009 at 10:33AM
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Ooooh the heartbreak of lost strawberries! I am having a similar problem. I snuck out at night and found my plants covered in beetles, of all things! I am spraying my plants with soapy water until I can buy some diatamaceous earth. This is crushed planktons that supposedly dehydrates them and cuts their blasted little legs up. It's totally organic and is said to keep away all crawling creatures.

If you're sure you've got snails/slugs I guess it would work for them too. Kill snails when you see them, I've heard you can leave a shallow dish of beer in the dirt and they will drink themselves to death, I've read this on lots of message boards but have not tried it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2010 at 10:43PM
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I just noticed the same thing! I planted 26 bare root strawberries last weekend and over the week they have shot up beautiful leaves. However, went outside this morning after monsoon rain here in Atlanta and found some of the leaves torn and eaten half way.

I should mention they are in 17" high beds with nice sturdy walls. So, it does not seem to be rabbits. Anyway, I just sprayed them with fruit tree spray which can be used on strawberries to get rid of and prevent a handful of pests and disease. Hope this helps, and I will let y'all know the outcome with this spray.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2011 at 8:10PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Sluggo is iron phosphate, which is also a fertilizer. Not a poison. It works on slugs/snails. There are a couple different brands, but it's iron phosphate basically.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2011 at 7:44PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Agree with the snails/slugs as the most likely culprit. And Sluggo will work very well, and is safe to use for your strawberries. Believe me, if you think you're upset about the leaves being eaten by the snails and slugs, just wait until they ruin the fruit! Lay down Sluggo in a 2 to 3" row all around your strawberry bed, and sprinkle throughout the bed. You can also use Sluggo Plus if you're also having earwig problems, great new product! For a non-organic solution, Corry's makes a liquid product called, "Deadline" which is Metaldehyde. Normally, in pellet or bait formulation, you don't want to use this if you have dogs or small children, but in liquid formulation, you can lay a line down around the perimeter of your strawberry patch, and if a snail crosses it, it will die. You'll need to reapply if it rains. Strawberry patches are an ideal place for snails and slugs to hide out, so you really also have to hand-pick them out in the evening or early morning as well, to get the population down. We are having a snail, slug, ant and earwig explosion here in California, due to all the rain we've enjoyed :-(

Patty S.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 12:18PM
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I used a time-lapse camera to catch what was eating a chunk out of mine eating mine, as soon as they started to ripen - a cockroach!

What does protect them is a Fruit Protection bag I sewed together. You can make some yourself if you follow the instructions on the YouTube link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Make a Fruit Protection Bag for Pesticide-Free Fruit & Veg

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:39PM
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