“What animal is eating my plants at night?” is indeed a question that you would be asking one day, especially if you have had a garden for a long time. These night pests may be hard to find because they do not operate during the day.

What Animal Is Eating My Plants at Night

However, you do not need to search anymore as you can know the culprits in your garden by reading this article along with the best solutions to stop them.

What Animals Are Eating Your Plants At Night?

Nocturnal pests in your garden that you should watch out for are earwigs, cutworms, spider mites, snails, slugs, deer, rabbits, and sawflies. In addition, beetles, groundhogs, and rats would also be creeping at night and eating your plants by getting away with it.

– Earwigs

If not for their habit of eating your garden plants at night, earwigs are truly fascinating insects. They burrow and hide in the soil during the day, run quickly when out of the soil, and are easily recognized by the forceps attached to the back of their abdomens. They are truly beautiful insects but are disastrous to your plants because they would eat them at night and harm the plant.

During the day, you may not see them eating your plants’ leaves. You can only see them if their hiding place was disturbed. However, they come out of their burrows at night and feast on whatever soft parts of the plants they can find, especially those nearest to the ground.

– Groundhogs

You already know that the presence of groundhogs in your garden spell doom for your plants, especially the vegetables and those with fruits.

While groundhogs can be active at different times of the day. However, they mostly operate at night, digging through the soil to reach the roots of your plants, and if the plant has a tuber, groundhogs will feast on the tuber, leaving you with a sick plant.

You no longer need to ask what animal uproots plants as groundhogs are the major culprits that would eat and leave a mess behind. 

– Cutworms

Cutworms are remarkable larvae of some moth species. These larvae are unlike those of other moth and butterfly species, as they burrow into the soil during the day and attack your garden plants from below at night. Cutworms are dangerous to plants, as they will not stop to eat until they are ready to transform, which would mean the majority of the plant would be harmed.

The burrow of cutworms is usually not far from the plants that they attack, so if you can find any plant with little bite marks, just check the surrounding soil. In addition, the depth of this insect’s burrow is not too deep. Overall, you can use a shovel or trowel to scoop the soil, and you should see the worms if they are truly responsible.

– Rabbits

If the bite marks on the leaves of your garden plants resemble the teeth of a mammal, the first perpetrator that you should think of is the rabbit.

Although rabbits may look cute, if you see their damage on your plants at night, you will not want them anywhere near your garden, because they will do so much. Generally, you must note that rabbits can operate at any time of the day, but they will pop up in the evenings because the evening would be peaceful.

While rabbits will not stop chewing the leaves of your plants, they usually move from leaf to leaf, leaving their bite marks.

In addition, you could also note how it is even possible to find their waste and fur around the plants and your garden fence, and inspect that it is an intruder rabbit that is eating your plant at nighttime. Overall, if you search around your garden, you may find their hiding spots.

grow your plants in a pest-free garden

– Deer

Deer is another nocturnal offender that you should be watchful of, especially if there are deer in your area. These animals may not be very destructive to your plants as they are always on the move, but they can ruin the beauty of your garden as they eat whatever leaves they can and spoil your garden arrangement.

Deer would be the ones that pull leaves off plants, so you might actually find that the leaves of your plants are missing, the branches chewed, and the bite would be obvious. In addition, you may also see some bite marks if you examine the plant carefully. Just as in rabbits, you can check around your garden to find the poop of deer.

– Snails and Slugs

Some of the major culprits that give your plants missing or damaged leaves at night are snails and slugs. During the day, you may be tempted to think that these creatures are very innocent because it seems that they do not move much and will be very slow. However, they can be very disastrous to plants at night.

When the sun is out, snails and slugs start their operation in your garden, searching for edible leaves. They usually leave holes in the leaves. The holes of snails and slugs are typically slender and long, as opposed to round and short holes by insects. If you check the plants early enough, you may find the slime of snails on the green leaves that were left as a trace since the evening.

– Rats

If rats can steal items inside a home, why can’t they attack your garden plants? Rats are more active at night, searching for fruits and other sweet products that they can steal from plants. They would find their freedom as there wouldn’t be anyone around. There are so many types of rats, and you do not want anyone near your garden, no matter how cute it might be.

When you wake up in the morning, you may find the bite marks of rats in the fruits, seeds, flowers, or edible leaves of your plants. The bite marks can be small or large depending on the size of the rat and also how long the rat had access to the plants. In addition, the bite marks are the teeth’s outline.

– Sawflies

If there are sawfly larvae on the leaves of your plants, you should see them during the day. Even though you can see them eating your plant leaves during the day, it does not mean that they will stop eating the leaves at night.

The larvae of these insects are dangerous to plants, so you want to remove them as soon as you see them. They make little round holes in the leaves of your plants.

– Tarnished Plant Bugs

Just in case you can see your plants dying or getting pale, and you do not know why, check for bugs that have the ability to eat the plants without giving you quick signs. These tarnished bugs suck life off your plants with their piercing-sucking mouth parts, so you will not see bite marks. However, they cause a lot of damage to your garden plants.

Asides from attacking your plants, these insects also release toxic chemicals as they feed on the leaves. These toxins can cause brown spots on the leaves and damage the appearance of your garden plants even further. This insect must never get close to your plants. Note that they are active both during the day and at night.

– Beetles

Beetles such as Japanese beetles, spotted cucumber beetles which are scientifically known as Diabrotica undecimpunctata, flea beetles, vine weevils, and others can make you sad when you see the damage that they have done to your beautiful plants.

In addition, you may be planting the most beautiful ornamental plants and wake up one morning only to find out that the leaves are now full of holes.

Well, note that beetles are most active and fly around during the day, especially when the sun is full. However, they mostly stay on the plant that they eat, so they can still eat some parts of the leaves at night. Also, the larvae of beetles are active at night and mostly attack your garden plants from below.


How To Stop Animals To Eat Your Plants at Night?

The ways you can initiate pest control in your garden would be to practice crop rotation, install motion sensory devices that will scare away the animals, place a beer trap, place bug spray, apply neem oil or other organic products, and lastly apply Bacillus Thuringiensis.

– Practice Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is important in gardens, especially if the pests attack specific plants and leave the rest. If your pests only attack a type of plant, it means that if that type is no longer in your garden, there is a high chance that the pest will go away. This is why you must monitor your plants to know which pest attacks which plant.

Prevent Your Plants from Being Eaten

You can stop growing a plant for one season, but one year is recommended because note that some pests can hide in the soil for a long time, and they would live there. Also, you have to make sure that the plant that you’d grow in that season is in a different family from the one the pests were attacking.

– Install Motion Sensors

Motion sensing devices help to identify and sometimes repel pests that are disturbing your plants at night. These devices can easily catch rabbits, deer, and groundhogs as they are large and easy to spot. The sensory device may find it difficult to catch snails, bugs, and other smaller pests.

Some of these devices also come with security features. While some of them can take pictures of the pest and send them to your mobile device, others can spray water toward the pest to repel it. The devices will save you and your plants from pest attacks. If they are rodents, or deer, these devices would frighten them in a way that they would no longer return to the area. 

– Make a Beer Trap

A beer trap is the first thing that you should think of if you want to get rid of all the mollusks, which are the snails and slugs found in your garden.

You may have to check the bushes because some nocturnal pests like snails hide in bushes during the day, so checking the bushes or shrubs in or around your garden, especially those nearest to the attacked plants, can tell you which pest is attacking your plants.

These creatures cannot resist the smell of yeast, barley, and other ingredients in beer, so the beer trap always catches them. Pour the beer into deep bowls and keep the bowls under or near the plants that snails visit often. In the morning, you should see dead snails and slugs in the bowl. It is left for you to dispose of the dead creatures.

The beer trap is not difficult to make at all. While you can make the beer by yourself, any store-bought beer, whether cheap or not, can work perfectly as long as it has hops. 

– Make a Bug Spray

If the pests attacking your garden plants at night are bugs, you can make use of a bug spray to repel the bugs. Lift rocks and other objects, if you can, lift any object near the attacked plants from the ground. You should see some of the pests that are active at night hiding under the object.

 Of course, you can buy a very effective insecticide from the store. Just make sure that the product you are buying is proven to repel or kill the specific pests in your garden. However, you can also make your bug spray.

You just need to mix soap with water and keep the solution in a spray bottle. When the sun is out, spray the leaves with the solution. It will help to repel some insect pests. However, remember not to overwater the plants.

– Use Neem Oil and Other Organic Pesticides

There are so many types of homemade products that you can use to repel nocturnal pests from your garden. For example, neem oil is the key to repelling these pests effectively, so you can spray it on their hiding places or the soil around the plants that they attack. Overall, keep in mind that neem oil is best for insects and other arthropod pests.

Other products that you can use are baking soda for fungi, diatomaceous earth for bugs, and pepper for mammals. For the mammalian pests, you just need to pour hot pepper powder in water, mix them both, and then spray the solution on the leaves of your plants.

– Use Bacillus Thuringiensis for Insects

This is a bacterium that is very toxic to insects yet safe for humans, pets, and plants. You must place it in the soil, before doing so, you should scoop some soil around the plant, because some burrowers do not go too deep into the soil, so you only need to scoop the soil with a shovel to see them.

When you have burrowing insects around your garden plants, you should amend the soil with the BT bacteria, which you can get from a local garden store. Overall, the insect population will reduce in a few weeks and your plants should be free from nocturnal pests.

Get rid of Animals from eating my plants

However, you should make sure that you stick to the instructions that come with the BT bacterium product. In addition, only make use of this product when you have tried everything else to get rid of cutworms, earwigs, and other burrowers without success.


Do wind chimes keep animals away from my plants at night?

Wind chimes may deter some animals from your plants at night due to the noise they create, but their effectiveness can vary.

How do I protect my potted plants from pests at night?

To protect potted plants from nighttime pests, use natural deterrents like garlic spray or place them in a protected area.

How do I know if cutworms are eating my plants at night?

Signs of cutworm damage include chewed stems near the soil, wilting plants, or the presence of the pests themselves.


With what you have learned so far, you can now protect your plants even from nocturnal pests.

Here are some recaps of this article:

  • Before you start looking for solutions to your pest problem, make sure that you identify the pests first.
  • You can identify the nocturnal pests, especially bugs and little invertebrates, by checking under logs and rocks.
  • Homemade products that are essential if you want to repel pests from your garden are neem oil, bug spray, pepper, and a beer trap.
  • If your fence has no holes and is deep enough, mammalian pests will hardly attack your plants.
  • If the garden pests are targeting a specific plant, practice crop rotation for a few years.

Basically, now it is safe to say that you are ready to grow your plants in a pest-free garden.

5/5 - (17 votes)
Evergreen Seeds