What creature is eating my vegetable plants? (Picture included)

markie_lDecember 27, 2009

Ok, here's the backstory: We just bought a home in a residential area this year. I built a raised garden bed this fall and planted carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, broccoli and brussel sprouts. There were a few bites taken out of ripening tomatoes but nothing too serious... until 4 weeks ago.

Then, something started eating my brussel sprouts. Within two weeks all the baby sprouts were gone, and then the mysterious bandit went for the leaves. I included a picture. Very depressing. Those plants were pulled out, in the vain hope that whatever it was would leave my garden alone if the brussel sprouts were gone. Wishful thinking - the broccoli was attacked last night, along with some of the onions. The carrots are unscathed - so it's either not rabbits, or Looney Tunes lied to me.

The clues: Some poop? They were oval shaped and about 1mm wide and 2-3 mm long. I have a picture of it, but I can't figure out how to post more than one picture in a post. Also, the damage seems to happen at night only. There aren't any footprints or tunnels that I could find.

Any help would be greatly appreciated... this is my first time trying to garden and it's so disappointing to see it all disappear under my nose!

Image link:

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Your damage looks significant to me, I would have guessed animal of some type. But - the poop you describe would be more like caterpillar or climbing cutworm, go out after dark with a flashlight and take a look, you should find what is munching then.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 4:48PM
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If the poop is dark green lift up the leaves and look under for light green or brown fuzzy worms. I have never had rabbits do anything to carrots but there is always a first time. Do you have small turtles in your area they have a bad habit of taking one bite to see if they like something then if it tastes good eating it. Tomatoes where there are many of the especially box turtles are a favorite.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 9:21PM
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Morz8: I went out with a flashlight and did find a caterpillar on the top of the soil! Only one... but maybe cutworms don't eat every night? It was also brown, so perhaps I missed it's buddies. I'll check again tomorrow night. I guess it's also possible I have multiple pests doing damage, if it does turn out to be only one.

Maifleur: The poop was a dark brown color. I don't think it's turtles - the bed is raised 18 inches, so it seems like that would present a challenge for them.

If rabbits have left your carrots alone then I guess there went my comfy theory that I had ruled out rabbits at least :). I'll have to see if I can find some way that they could be getting in the yard once it's light out again.

Thank you, thank you both for your suggestions!!

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 11:02PM
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eric_wa(San Juan, z8 WA)

I'm leaning towards cabbage worm for the brassica damage.

The brussel sprouts maybe Ciscoe Morris


Here is a link that might be useful: Cabbageworm

    Bookmark   January 14, 2010 at 10:30PM
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Well, I think I may have found the culprit. Someone local mentioned that they had similar looking damage a while ago and it turned out to be rodents. So I put some traps out and have since been catching large (and rather plump...) mice. Drove them out to some woods and released them - hopefully no one else has a garden near there!

    Bookmark   January 16, 2010 at 5:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I'll betcha that your 'rather plump' mice were voles.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 11:58AM
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