Whats eating my marigolds?

kuzariprincessJuly 5, 2006

Something is eating my marigolds and I've never seen anything eat them so fast. Does anyone know what it is?

Kuzari Princess

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Crazy_Gardener(Z2b AB Canada)

Most likely slugs, hostas and marigolds are their favourite foods.


    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 1:39AM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

If there's pieces of marigold all over the ground, it might be starlings (blackbirds). Every year I get a mob of them come through my yard, peck all my marigolds apart, peck holes in my peas and zucchini, and leave.

Otherwise, yes slugs.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 8:14AM
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Thanks for answering northspruce and Sharon!

I haven't seen any slugs yet this year but put out bait to be on the 'safe' side. So far my Hosta's look good. Its only the marigolds and zinnia seedlings that are being eaten. Oh, something is also chomping on my rose buds.

kuzari princess

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 7:14PM
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Slugs. The little white introduced ones. On the positive side Safer's slug bait is very effective. I've heard no negative consequences to other animals or the environment by using this bait.

We live in Calgary and for the most part it's a dry climate but those little slugs make an appearance every year. Not in the numbers found elsewhere but they certainly do head straight for marigolds planted both in pots and in the ground.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 9:17PM
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northspruce(z3a MB CDA)

Yeah slugs are hard to see because they usually come out at night and hide during the day. I have been using Safers slug bait too, it is ferric phosphate and is not harmful to the environment, birds, other insects, mammals or anything else except is mildly toxic to fish (if directly applied to pond water).

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 9:44PM
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leo_prairie_view(2B Manitoba)

Yesterday I watched a family of young robins tearing the marigolds apart and scattering the petals around in our neighbours garden. Then today they moved into our garden and started the same thing on the pansies. So I would think it is the birds. My wife was told to sprinkle red pepper around to stop them. When she tried it the lid fell off and a whole jarful went onto the pansies. It will be interesting to see what effect that has.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 11:34PM
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Leo...I once killed an asparagus fern when I sprinkled cayenne pepper on it but my other plants were unharmed.

alpiner and northspruce...I think you are right about the little white slugs. DH found them and their tracks this morning.

kuzari princess

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 2:29PM
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Hmmm? Could the robins be poking around the marigolds looking for slugs? I'll throw a few slugs up on the roof and the birds enjoy the tasty tidbits.

One of the advantages of gardening in a northern climate is we experience far less than our share of introduced pest species. When it's minus 25c outside we can find comfort in knowing that many pests are freezing their butts off (if they have butts). The little white slugs, with a few exceptions, don't survive our winters. The slug population has to repopulate from overwintering eggs and by the time the numbers start to get to be an uncontrollable problem, Mother Nature steps in with some winter cold.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 8:52PM
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We have slugs also They sure DO like the marigolds....Seems tho, that they like the small yellow ones best, then the light orange...so far the deeper brown-orange seem to be OK. Also they LOVE peas. Last week we rescued a few plants from a store....Planted then, I planted two Nepeta nervosa (veined Nepeta) The next DAY they were completely stripped.. Faster then any of the marigolds even. I am now going to keep a dairy to record such things, in fact ALL garden disasters etc. (While DH has been at this for many MANY years, I am still pretty new to it all) so figure that, while I DO have him to run to , a record would benifit greatly. Valerie

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 10:59PM
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Well, kuzariprincess, my guess is earwigs. I lost most of my marigolds early in the season. I've had earwigs for 4 years now and thought they were under "control". When my marigolds were eaten, I checked with the local Ministry and found that earwigs LOVE marigolds. Who would have thought?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2006 at 6:52PM
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I heard that French Marigolds were deer resistant. I think an animal is eating mine, they eat the younger plants from the leaves down to the stalk over night. We have groundhogs and that is my guess.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:28AM
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I have to agree with nickie8898. I had a large planter full of marigolds and coleus on my back deck--it was so pretty. One night there was a groundhog on my deck eating the birdseed that had fallen from the feeders. The next morning I found my planter had been annihilated. It was clear that something large had been in the planter. Most of the tops of the flowers had been broken off and had disappeared or fallen to the ground. The plants themselves were broken and flattened. The coleus was damaged as well; flattened in places and the leaves were chewed. The next day, whatever hope I had of salvaging 'the remains' was dashed. Everything was destroyed. I've seen a raccoon, an opossum, and plenty of squirrels and birds on my deck, but the damage occurred the day after I first saw the groundhog.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 10:22PM
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The marigolds in the planter on my deck disappeared overnight. The gardener says that the only critters that eat plants are slugs and rabbits. I haven't seen either around here. Could it be mice or birds? I live in Malibu and we have lots of wild animals around here, but the only ones I actually see at night are the raccoons. I put out moth balls, but nothing seems to work - what to do??

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 3:07PM
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hey alpiner - thanks for trying to put a positive spin on minus 25c. Unfortunately, after the non-summer we've been having here in NW Ont, it's not working! My marigolds have also suffered this summer. I went out one night about a month ago and found them COVERED with slugs. I picked off many (eeewww) and put the Safers bait out for the rest. I have also seen a LOT of earwigs this year which I've rarely seen in past years, so they may have been contributing. Seems like minus 25c just isn't cold enough anymore for these critters:(

    Bookmark   August 5, 2009 at 10:42PM
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hykue(2b Saskatchewan)

I can't much help with the marigold problem, because I'm a newbie, but I can't imagine cayenne pepper would help with birds. The chemical in peppers that makes them taste hot (capsaicin, I think) is not detectable by birds. Pepper seeds are distributed by birds but digested by mammals, so the capsaicin serves to prevent mammals from eating the peppers while allowing birds. Just for information. I realize this is a bit of a tangent. Sorry about all the marigold problems.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 1:26PM
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mytime(3/4 Alaska)

The slugs actually pretty much left my hosta alone this year, but they stripped every leaf off of every marigold so fast that I had a difficult time even remembering what I had planted there.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2009 at 3:04AM
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I planted two pots one with tomatoes and one with cucumbers for my granddaughters. I put tomatoe cages in each pot and put the pots on milk crates. The pots are on a second story balcony. The plants are above the cages now and the cucumbers are hanging over the balcony. I planted marigolds around the bottom to keep off pests, however, the next day, all of the marigolds were gone. They were large plants with blooms. What could have eaten them in one night like that? I have not seen any slugs. I know there are a lot of squirrels. There are no other plants or shrubs on the balcony. I have a vegetable garden too in a town about 80 miles away from them. I do have a little problem with squirrels eating my peaches and strawberries but have not noticed them eating plants or the vegetables. Now something is eating the baby cucumbers and tomatoes as they come out on my girls' plants. Any more ideas on what it could be? I ruled out deer,raccoon, & rabbits because I don't think they can make it to the balcony. (ha-ha). We do not have groundhogs here. We do have rats. Any more ideas would be appreciated. Thank You

    Bookmark   May 31, 2010 at 1:28PM
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All my marigolds are in pots, not in the ground, so I;m sure it is not slugs.

But this morning, I went out and all the marigold flowers had been picked off & were on the ground. Some still whole, others picked apart. I am thinking it may be a raccoon, as I've seen one around some evenings.

Odd, as I've had marigolds before and nothing's ever gotten into them, but this year, all is lost. Any further insights welcome.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2011 at 1:15PM
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Huh! Well bang on schedule, identical behaviour in the UK & USA. All the fora say slugs and snails. Well that cannot be true over here. Been feeding those brats with slug pellets since end of March. Dead beasts all over the garden, know the trails. This is new - it's certainly noctural, not rabbits or birds, doesn't eat slug pellets and has a different, thinner silvery trail - no leaves left, severs the flower heads and has just started this week. Has to be highly seasonal. What hatches in mid-June? Normally suspect caterpillars. Have seen a few on the pelargoniums, but not the marigolds. Caterpillars usually hide under a leaf. But these candidates just disappear into the woodwork. Need a biologist on this conundrum, not a botanist. Slugs and snails I can manage, not these critters.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 4:16PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I was surprised to read that someone (alpiner) has little slugs! Anywhere I've lived, I've only had the giant, man-eater size variety!!!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:57AM
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I'd be willing to bet that slugs are NOT the culprits if your plants, blooms etc. are disappearing from one day to the next! Slugs, even a bunch of them, move pretty slowly. Hence, the saying , "slow as a slug". More likely is the chance that squirrels, gophers, or ground squirrels are eating them. I kept losing my small cucumber, tomatillo, and tomato plants. Also disappearing in mid-day were my marigolds and even a jalapeno plant (leaves only). After installing a security camera and "baiting" the garden with fresh marigolds and a bib lettuce plant (wanted to rule out rabbits, too!) we caught the brazen thief on video today! He even "posed" for the camera, or at least, seemed to!
First he ate some of the jalapeno leaves, then the lettuce. Next, on to the marigold, Then back to the lettuce, and finishing lunch with the rest of the marigold. Take a look. They are very good at climbing over, digging under fences, hopping up on your balcony, etc.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:24PM
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That video link didn't work. What was the culprit?

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 9:50AM
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Our male (Neutered) Maine Coon cat has been caught fairly frequently, eating the leaves of our marigolds in a pot. We try to discourage it, but I'm inclined to think that he is eating the leaves for health purposes because cats and dogs, and probably other animals, will eat natural things in their environment that will help them with digestion, stomach upset, and abdominal pain. Besides these uses, marigolds leaves are known to aid constipation. Marigold leaves and and flower, are known to reduce inflammation, help fight bladder infection, have a stimulant effect, and reduce fever by diaphoretic properties, as well as other uses. The leaves are known to have a sticky sweetness when first chewed followed by a pungent taste of a saline mixture.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2014 at 2:46PM
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I planted marigolds in the exact same spot last year and this year and this year slugs have destroyed them. How can this be? Can I treat the soil and then plant new ones? Can I replant the slug-damaged ones or are they not good anymore?

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 4:58PM
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SouthCountryGuy Zone 4b-5 SE BC(Zone 4b-5 SE BC Canada)

Lynne sounds like you have a slug population explosion. The plants will likely survive if the damage isn't too severe. I have lots of slugs and to control them I bury a small plastic cup to the top is about one inch above the soil/mulch line. Then I pour about 2" of beer in the cup. I position these cups around where I see damage. Also if I am up late enough I will go out with a flash light and a salt shaker. Remember to not over do the salt as it isn't great in quantity for plants. The last thing I do is take copper wire and wrap it around the bases of shrubs. They don't like to crawl over it.

Good luck


    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 7:45PM
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