“Do deer eat cucumber plants?” you may be wondering because you usually do not see deer near your cucumbers but some cucumber leaves are missing. Deer usually walk away from cucumber plants unless they are hungry.
Read this article to learn what could be eating your cucumbers and how to prevent deer and other pests from reaching the plants.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- Do Deer Eat Cucumber Plants?
- Why Do Deer Avoid Cucumber Plants?
- How Can You Tell if Deer Are Eating Your Cucumber Plants?
- How Can You Prevent Deer and Other Pests From Eating Your Cucumbers?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Do Deer Eat Cucumber Plants?
Note that even though deer choose not to eat these plants, they happily eat the cucumber fruits. Cucumbers are water-rich, sweet, and nutritious, so you need to protect them from deer and other pests in your garden. It may come as a surprise to see when you see your cucumbers missing, especially when deer have been avoiding the plant for a long time.
Why Do Deer Avoid Cucumber Plants?
Deer avoid cucumber plants because cucumber leaves and vines have little thorns that make them undesirable for deer to eat. Deer can also leave the cucumbers for other plants in your garden, so you need to watch out. Here are the detailed reasons why deer usually leave cucumbers:
– Cucumber Leaves Have Little Spikes
If you use your fingers to feel the leaves of cucumbers, you will feel the hard hairs on the leaves. To your fingers, the hairs may not feel pointy. However, they can hurt sensitive parts of our body such as the tongue. The fuzzy and prickly nature of cucumber leaves are why deer avoid eating the leaves.
Cucumber vines also have these hairs, so it is best that deer avoid the entire plant. Note that these hairs are not toxic and the leaves are edible to other pests. Deer only avoid the leaves because there are other plants in your garden and would eat the leaves (and ensure the slight pain of the prickly hairs) when they are hungry.
– The Plants Are Yet to Fruit
Even though deer do not eat the vines and leaves unless they really need to, they love eating cucumber fruits. This means that your cucumbers are not safe if deer can enter your garden.
As soon as your plants start producing fruits (or are about to), find ways to protect them from deer so that you can have a complete harvest.
– There Are Other Plants in Your Garden
If you are meant to choose between two types of food, you will most likely choose the one that is more appealing to you. Likewise, deer will reject cucumbers for the other sweet and nutritious fruits, vegetables, and other plants in your garden.
Deer will not enter your garden because of cucumber plants. If you regularly see deer trying to enter your garden, it is mostly because there are some desirable plants in the garden. You should know the plants that attract deer in your garden and try to prevent the deer from reaching them.
How Can You Tell if Deer Are Eating Your Cucumber Plants?
You can tell whether deer are eating your cucumber plants or not by examining the bitten fruits, checking for deer poop and footprints, and seeing the deer around your cucumbers. You will also get a big clue if there are deer in the area, it’s very possible they got in.
– There Are Deer in Your Area
Before you believe that deer are responsible for the damage to your cucumbers, you need to have seen deer in your area.
If there are no deer in your area, you should look for the pest that is responsible for the damage to your cucumbers.
– You See the Deer
The best way to tell that a deer is responsible is when you see the deer in action. Have you seen deer in your garden eating your cucumbers before? If yes, you have the full assurance that deer are responsible and you must prevent them from entering your garden.
When you see deer in your garden, scare it away and take note of where it ran to. Where the deer ran to is likely the place that it came from. Knowing where the deer come from can help you to plan the best prevention techniques for the deer.
– You See Their Footprints or Poop
When deer eat cucumbers and other plants in their garden, they leave their poop and footprints in your garden. If you check the leaves of your plants carefully, you may see deer fur as well. The presence of deer footprints or poop in your garden is enough proof that deer entered your garden.
Deer poop is round and black. The round balls form a cluster though they can also be scattered. Cucumber seeds are not easy to digest, so you may notice cucumber seeds in the poop. As for the footprints, they are made of two hooves shaped collectively shaped like a split inverted heart,
– You See Their Bite Marks
Deer have enough strength in their jaws to pull leaves and petioles from the cucumber plants. They can also pull an entire cucumber plant from its trellis if they want. The more severe the damage on the cucumber, the more likely it was caused by deer because other pests that attack cucumbers are not as strong and large as deer.
Well, deer do not regularly consume cucumbers, so their damage to the plants will not be that severe. If deer are browsing your cucumbers, they will most likely eat the leaves on top and ignore the ones below.
How Can You Prevent Deer and Other Pests From Eating Your Cucumbers?
You can prevent deer and other pests from eating your cucumbers by simply fencing off your garden, using repellents, scaring the deer away, etc. Just make sure that the pests cannot reach your cucumbers and you are good to go.
– Build a Fence
A fence can protect your cucumbers and other garden plants from deer by preventing the deer and other pests from entering your garden. Your garden fence can be made of cheap wire mesh, wood, or any material of your choice. You can use an electric fence as well.
Deer are good jumpers, so make sure that the fence you install reaches 5 feet in height. Also, you should prevent fawns from forcing themselves into your garden through the ground by installing the fence very close to the ground.
– Remove What Attracts Deer to Your Garden
When deer cannot find anything that attracts them in your garden, they will leave. Some things that you should remove from your garden, as they attract deer are:
- Animal feeds: If you have feed for birds, goats, cows, etc. in your garden, keep it far from the reach of deer because deer will surely come for it.
- Food waste: Even though food waste can make awesome compost, you want to protect your compost pile from pest attacks by composing it in a bin or an enclosed place.
- Unprotected fruits and vegetables: Are your garden plants exposed to animals? If so, deer will most likely enter your garden. Keep your leafy green, fruits, and other items far from the reach of deer.
– Use Repellents
Repellents are products that deer hate. Using these products in your garden can help repel deer. Remember that these deer repellents can be blown off or fade from your garden, so regularly add more. Some products that you can use are:
- Hair or fur: Deer are scared of predators, so if they see dog fur in the garden, they may run away. Human hair is not effective.
- Pepper: You can spray a mixture of water and pepper powder on your cucumbers to prevent deer from eating them.
- Store-bought deer spray: Go to any gardening store and buy any spray to repel deer. Remember that the product must be plant-safe. Ensure that you follow the instructions.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which Vegetables in Your Garden Can Attract Deer?
Some vegetables that attract deer to your garden are:
- Tomato: Deer love to eat tomatoes.
- Carrots: Both the carrot leaves and tubers are sweet.
- Lettuce: Deer will go to extremes to eat lettuce.
- Zucchini: Both the leaves and fruits are edible.
- Squash: Do not allow deer near your squash
2. What Are Some Deer-Resistant Vegetables?
These are deer resistant vegetables, so you can plant some of them near your garden edges:
- Tomatoes: Toxic vines and leaves.
- Onions: Deer dislike smell.
- Garlic: Smell repels deer.
- Potatoes: Foliage is toxic.
- Dill: Repels deer.
- Eggplant: Have toxins in their leaves.
- Mint: They repel some pests, including deer.
3. What Animals Are Eating Your Cucumber Plants?
What animals are eating your cucumber plant can be a varied answer. Some animals that eat cucumber plants are cucumber beetles, rabbits, snails, voles, and caterpillars and moths. These animals eat cucumber fruit but also eat the leaves and vines.
Watch out for the following animals:
- Cucumber beetles: When eating cucumbers, these insects destroy the leaves, flowers, and fruits. Their females lay eggs on or around cucumber plants and they feed on cucumbers when they are young and even when mature.
- Rabbits: Rabbits chew cucumber vines, leaves, and fruits as well. Rabbits love chewing plants to maintain the size of their teeth.
- Voles: These rats feed on cucumbers and other plants in your garden. They attack the cucumbers from below.
- Snails: Snails eat cucumber leaves, cucumber peels, and almost every part of the cucumber plants. They attack plants, especially at night.
- Caterpillars of moths and butterflies: Get rid of caterpillars as soon as you see them because they can destroy your cucumber plants.
4. Will My Cucumbers Grow Back After Damage From Deer?
Your cucumbers will not grow back after damage from deer. Cucumbers are annuals meaning that they only last one season and then need to be replanted. It depends on how bad the damage is. If the damage is not extensive you wait and see if it recovers.
Even though deer may not severely damage your cucumbers, you can now protect the plants from deer and other pests.
Here are some reminders from this article:
- Deer will only eat these fruits when they are hungry and other, more desirable, plants are not available.
- Deer love cucumber fruits, so ensure that you stop them from reaching your cucumbers when the plants are producing fruits.
- If you have never seen deer in your area, deer are most likely not responsible for the attack on your cucumbers.
- You can prevent deer from reaching your cucumbers by building a fence, using repellents, and planting deer resistant plants.
- Other pests that you should watch out for are beetles, caterpillars, snails, mole rats, and rabbits.
Now you know what is eating cucumber fruits, leaves, and vines in your garden. Use the tips to prevent these pests from entering the cucumber garden.