What eats marigolds remains a headache gardening enthusiasts have to deal with since the plants are said to be pests and animal-resistant.
Besides being planted for their showy flowers that create a beautiful vibe in the garden, marigolds are also planted as companion plants to help get rid of most pests and animals.
With their superior characteristics, anyone would be left wondering what eats marigolds. Let us look at some of its predators.
What Eats Marigolds?
Animals that eat marigold are grasshoppers, slugs and snails, Japanese beetles, and spider mites. You might also spot some earwigs, aphids, and thripes eating them. Lastly, the wilder animals are the deer and the rabbits that would eat marigolds’ flowers.
Grasshoppers are always tactical in their attacks on plants, as they would approach and sit on them. These sly insects make their damage in daytime and are not scared by your presence. Because of their sly nature, kids in some communities find them interesting and even play with them.
However, as they sit on your marigolds, the grasshoppers enjoy fulfilling bites. On the contrary, they eat any part of the plant they can reach. If not, they gladly hop to the part they want to munch, regardless of the height.
As you see them resting, you might think it’s fine if they do so, however they are not only resting, but also indulging in your marigolds. Note that they are heavy eaters, and if there are several of them in your garden, they are about to cause serious damage to your plants.
Having these insects in your garden can have devastating results as they are known for their heavy feeding. These chewers can eat food equivalent to half their body weight.
These disturbing insects are easy to identify as they eat marigold during the day in plain sight. When in large numbers, you can hear them rubbing their wings and legs together, creating chirping noises. The noise feels as if they are bragging about having a good meal.
To identify the extent of the infestation, inspect your garden at different intervals and note the number of grasshoppers. After identification is complete, you can use a few approaches depending on these hoppers’ amount and maturity. However, the young predators, using grasshopper repellents can help get rid of the culprits.
On the other hand, another effective method is the use of natural predators, birds. Bluebirds and swallows are excellent grasshopper predators, and you can attract them by placing feeders and water in your garden. You can cultivate your garden to keep it free from weeds in all seasons. It helps prevent the hatching of these insects’ eggs.
2. Slugs and Snails
It is almost unbelievable to learn that these mollusks can actually harm plants in your garden because they wouldn’t harm anything, however the slugs and snails are nocturnal, making it challenging to identify what causes damage to your marigolds.
Note that, since these animals leave slimy paths on plants or your garden, you can have a clue about what’s damaging your marigolds.
After noticing the slimy paths, check your garden approximately two hours after sunset and two hours before sunrise. You may carry a flashlight to help with the vision, and you will find them feeding on your marigolds.
After confirming their presence, there are several ways you can get rid of these animals. Ensure your garden does not have too much moisture, as these mollusks love living in such environments.
Predators such as frogs, birds, and ground beetles can help rid the snails and slugs. To attract them, you might have to mulch your marigolds with dry foliage to provide a habitat for the frogs and ground beetles, while putting water and feeders to attract the birds, so that they would come out and be gone.
Note that if the infestation is not much, you can easily and simply hand-pick the mollusks and spray your garden with chemicals that help kill their eggs. Plant your marigolds at significant distances to prevent creating a damp environment where the mollusks can hide and continue damaging the plants.
In addition, some spacing also provides proper air circulation, which helps reduce moisture, and they would no longer visit and eat your marigolds.
3. Japanese Beetles
Often, gardeners use marigolds to prevent the Japanese beetles from attacking other plants in their gardens. The insects prefer feeding on the marigolds to most plants.
However, it becomes challenging when the marigolds attract many of these beetles and get out of control and start eating the flowers instead. They can eradicate the plants and start devouring on plants you intend to protect.
You can identify the Japanese beetles in your garden in their larva or adult forms. The larva is white, with a tan-colored head. It forms a c-shape, making it resemble a caterpillar, only that it has bigger legs.
In order to pick them more properly, you can note that an adult Japanese beetle has a copper-brow color for the wings, with a metallic color for the head and thorax. It is approximately half an inch long, as the insects feed at night, leaving skeleton-like leaf structures as they feed on the matter, leaving the veins untouched.
To prevent Japanese beetles from eating marigolds in your garden, take a tour of your garden at night. You may use a spotlight to check the leaves of your marigolds and crash the insects as you find them.
Another method to protect marigolds is drowning the Japanese beetles in a water bowl and leaving dead bodies on the plants. The insects do not like the sight of dead bodies and the stench produced after a few days, making them move away from your plants.
You can place some beetle, which are widely available, and you can use them to eliminate insects and protect your flowers instead. Place them under several marigolds, depending on the amount you are fighting, to attract and trap them.
4. Spider Mites
These belong to the group of spiders, with two distinct spots that set them apart. The marigold-eating spiders are tiny and feed by sucking the sap from your plants. After the attack, your marigolds start turning brown, which can eventually lead to drying up and dying.
Like other spider species, you can identify the spider mites from the webbing they leave under the marigold leaves. They also leave their skin sheds and are common during dry and warm climates.
Since the spiders are tiny, use a hand lens to check them; alternatively, you can use a white surface to beat the marigold’s foliage. The spider mites will start moving while the remaining debris remains.
You can spread some horticultural oil and insecticide soap to effectively eliminate spider mites from your marigolds, simply, spray these chemicals thoroughly under the leaves of your marigolds for efficiency.
Note: pesticides don’t usually do the magic because the two-spotted spider mites are not insects. Spider mites also have predators you can use for natural elimination. In addition, note that even ladybird beetles are excellent predators that use mites as food.
Earwigs can be what eats marigolds in your garden. Typically, these insects prefer feeding on other insects, decaying plant matter and dead Japanese beetles. The nocturnal insects will start eating the plants in the garden when there are no more insects and decaying plant matter to feed.
Initially, you might confuse their attack for snail and slung attack, as they fed on the plants the same way as the mollusks. The difference is that these do not leave slimy paths like the mollusks.
Because the insects are nocturnal, you must visit your garden at night with your spotlight. This is when you can check if you can find flat, brown insects that resemble cockroaches but of course, they are earwigs, these, however, have pinched forceps that they use for piercing foliage.
You have several ways to get rid of the insects, as one of them is using diatomaceous earth (DE) which is the perfect way to see them perish. Apply the natural mineral to the soil for impressive results, and the mineral works by dehydrating the earwigs’ bodies, leading to death.
You can also eliminate them by clearing mulch and removing the dead material from your plants. Keeping your plants clean and the soil dry ensures that these insects do not have a hiding place, since they enjoy moist environments and no dead foliage to attract them.
Pesticides are also preferable, as they eliminate other insects that serve as food for the earwigs. Earwigs are insects, and they cannot survive the intensity of the chemicals.
Aphids mainly feed on the leaves of your marigolds. Sometimes, they attack the stems when they have infested your garden in large numbers, in this case, they do not feed on the plant’s matter, but poke holes in leaves and stems to suck the sap. The results are yellow, curly leaves that eventually fall off for insufficient nutrients.
Some aphids come in different colors, such as green, brown, yellow, black, and even in violet or pink, as they are usually wingless, making it easier to control them. However, after some generations, these insects develop wings, after which the females fly to different locations to lay eggs.
Initially, you can confuse their attack with that of two spotted spider mites. Unlike the spider mites that leave skin shells and webs under the leaves, aphids leave honeydew. This sweet, sticky substance produced by aphids creates more trouble for your marigolds by attracting ants.
Removing the wingless insects includes using a hosepipe from your garden to flush them. They will fall to the ground, and since they can’t fly, they starve and die. Repeat the process for a few days to eliminate the insects.
You may even use some insecticidal soaps, and pyrethrins are effective products for controlling these insects. Nonetheless, when fertilizing your marigolds, do it in moderation. On the other hand, when you over-fertilize it will introduce a lot of nitrogen, leading to lush growth, but be cautious not to burn it. This growth then attracts aphids to your vegetation.
These animals are among the few that enjoy feeding on your marigolds. Whenever you see them in your garden, do not be deceived by their cute appearance because trouble is about to unveil.
Note that these animals are night-feeders, and because they feed at night, you may never set your eyes on them, but their droppings are evidence of their presence. At the same time rabbits are timid and fast animals that have been raised in the wild.
They feed on both the leaves and flowers of your plants, and if you move slightly towards them, they flee, making catching them an impossible solution.
Due to the animals eating marigold eating animals feed at night and catching them is not an option, consider covering your plants with a net or even with a mesh. These prevent the rabbits from entering your garden.
Natural repellents such as pepper tea are also ideal for keeping the rabbits off your marigolds. Making this pepper tea involves mixing hot pepper with hot water and some vinegar. Spray the solution on your plants, making them inedible to these animals, as you sprinkle them around.
Thrips attack your marigold plant the same way aphids, and twospotted spider mites do. They suck the sap from the leaves, flowers, and flower buds. Note that these do not pierce holes in these parts of the plant. Instead, thrips would scrap the tissue and suck the sap that flows from the injured tissue.
Thrips with their nymphs are equally destructive to your marigolds. You can identify both by checking under the dead material of your marigold, as they love hiding in such places and the barks.
Adult thrips have a brownish-black color and some hairy wings. They are slender and small in size. Nymphs are yellow and do not have wings. You know your marigolds have been eaten by thrips when you notice some oily-like black droppings on the attacked parts.
Get rid of thrips by using a mixture of insecticidal soap and neem oil. Spray the mixture on the affected parts and observe the effect of the mixture on your plants. Spraying too much of it can be damaging to the marigolds. If the plants respond well, repeat the process after every week until there are no more thrips.
You must make sure that there is no dead foliage in your garden. Removing the dead matter ensures thrips do not have a hiding and hatching place.
Deer consider marigolds a good food source; when it leaves your garden, you will notice it has devoured a good portion of your plants, this is because the scent of the plants attracts it.
You know your garden is about to blossom with enviable beauty when summer begins. This splendid view will persist until the beginning to the middle of fall.
However, you can unexpectedly start noticing holes in this incredible plant’s leaves, flowers, and sometimes stems, when it comes to deer, you should see the whole thing has been eaten, not just holes in the plant, as the stems would be bitten off.
In order to stop them, you can use a mesh net or fence with poles to prevent them from entering your garden. You can also use repellents for the animal you want out of your garden if you feel like fencing or using a net will be unsightly.
You may even invest in a motion sensory sprinkler system that would scare away the deer as a sudden movement is made and water starts to sprinkle around it.
– Why Are Birds Eating My Marigolds?
No, birds do not primarily attack your marigolds. When you find them in your garden, it can indicate pests and insects feasting on your plants. Usually, the birds tear the leaves and other parts of the marigolds as they try to reach for these insects and pests, but they wouldn’t eat the flower.
Marigolds are great plants you can plant as companions to other plants or as ornamental plants for your backyard. However, they are not resistant to all pests and animals and are candidates for attack.
Here’s a quick summary of what can eat your marigolds:
- Grasshoppers are cunning insects that devor your marigolds at a resting mode.
- Snails and slugs attack your plants in the dark, and it is almost impossible to know it’s them unless you are keen on the slimy trails they leave behind.
- Pesticides and animal repellents are practical methods to eliminate pests and animals eating your marigolds.
When planting marigolds, be ready to deal with these eaters. Some feed so heavy that they can leave you with an empty garden of marigolds. But since you can control these predators, nothing can stop you from planting these amazing plants.
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