What is eating my hostas, is a popular question and concern amongst gardeners who keep this plant. When they see that their beautiful hosta plants start losing their beauty because of holes in their leaves.
Preventing the hosta pests is easy, you just need to identify them first. Read this article to learn about the hosta eaters and what you should watch out for.
- What Is Eating My Hostas?
- How To Protect Hostas From Pests
What Is Eating My Hostas?
Some pests that may be eating your hostas are snails and slugs, groundhogs, deer, rabbits, insects such as beetles and weevils, snails, cutworms, and voles. In addition, other animals such as turkeys, squirrels, chipmunks, or pill bugs may even eat your hostas.
– Black Vine Weevils and Other Insects
Beetles and weevils are beautiful insects that may cause severe damage to your plants. These insects prefer a specific type of plant, so if you think that they are the ones eating the leaves, the best way to confirm is if you do not see them on other plants.
Some ways to tell that they are eating your hosta leaves are when you see holes with irregular shapes in the leaves, and not in their normal and smoothly edged shape. Also, the insects will most likely stay on the plant’s leaves or just around the plant, as they do not like to fly far. Blister beetles are common beetles that attack hosta plants.
– Foliar Nematodes
The Nematodes are little animals that may be microscopic and sometimes they would have a variation that’s big and visible. The nematodes that attack your hosta leaves are parasitic worms that you can only see with the help of a microscope. However, you can tell that there are nematodes in your hostas plants with some symptoms.
The best way to tell that there are nematodes in your yard is by seeing recurrent diseases in your plants. You should also see some sections of the leaves dying or turning brown in their foliage.
The nematodes can appear in and attack both old and new leaves, so you should not conclude that the dying leaves are signs of nutrient deficiency. While they are nematodes in the leaves, they usually move to the roots of the plant, especially in the winter months.
Deer are medium to large-sized mammals that, if and when given access to your yard or garden, might damage all your plants, especially the hostas. The best way to tell if there are deer in your hosta garden is to check if deer live around your home. If they do not, they are not responsible for the damage.
You can also examine the hosta leaves. As Deer eat and destroy the leaves in minutes and leave just the stalks or petioles, In addition, for unfinished leaves, you will see their bite marks. You should also check around the plant if you can see deer waste, as its presence signifies deer eating hostas.
– Pill Bugs
Pill bugs or rolly pollies are little bugs that you may find around your hostas. While they eat hosta leaves, and these bugs can tell you other things that are happening to the plant or your yard generally. The presence of rolly pollies indicates that you are overwatering your plants as these bugs only live in consistently moist or almost wet soil as this medium is best for them to grow and multiply.
Pill bugs eating hostas also indicate that your hostas may be dying, as they only eat decaying or very soft and new blooming parts of the plants. This means that if you see your hosta plants dying and there are rolly pollies around happily eating them, it is the dying plant that attracted them, and they are not the real cause of the death of the plant.
– Snails and Slugs
Snails and slugs are gastropods that eat plant products, especially the leaves in the case of hosta plants. They are very disastrous, but you can save your plants if you see and stop them early. In addition, you can tell that they are attacking the plant’s leaves when you see them early in the morning.
These gastropods make holes with irregular shapes, but unlike other pests, the holes are usually long and not wide, and this could be a clue. If you check your hosta leaves in the morning, you might see the slime texture that snails leave, as they may still be fresh. On the other hand, if you find holes and other slug damages that were not there the previous day, it could also be snails, slugs, or other nocturnal pests.
“Cutworm” refers to the caterpillars of so many moth species. These may be beautiful insects, but when they lay their eggs near a plant of choice and the hatched caterpillars will continue to eat the leaves until they transform into adults, laying more eggs on the plant’s leaves. In short, cutworms on hostas are dangerous as they eat them and multiply.
The caterpillars produce large holes in hosta leaves, but mostly attack the hostas from below. You should also see little bite marks appearing on leaf edges, as many caterpillars love eating the leaves from the edges.
Note that Some of them are also active around the root region of the hostas. If you examine the plant well, you may find some caterpillars crawling on the leaves or even moths flying around it.
Rabbits are known to be strictly herbivorous, medium-sized mammals that can cause major damage in your garden. Before rabbits will eat hostas, they might have destroyed other plants in the garden, and this is why you must protect your garden from rabbits.
You can tell that there are rabbits in your yard by the look of the leaves. They will not eat the whole plant, but will eat most parts of it and then jump to another leaf. Also, you should see rabbit waste and fur around the plants to identify that it was a rabbit who consumed or bit the plants. Note that some rabbits are nocturnal or very secretive, so you may not spot them easily.
Voles are little rodents that destroy vegetables and other garden plants. You should notice that the roots of your hostas are freshly eaten or there are holes in roots if there are voles in your garden. Also, you will find little holes in the ground as voles love to attack plants from below.
Squirrels are little mammals that can eat almost everything in your yard. Do squirrels eat hostas? Sure, they mostly eat hosta plants in the hot summer months because of moisture, as they may be dehydrated.
If there is a tree nearby and the tree has one or multiple branches that grow into your yard, squirrels can have access to your yard, and easily you would know that it was a squirrel.
While turkeys may pick some parts of the hosta leaves, their significant damage to hosta plants is destroying the roots. As they are searching for food, they usually dig and may destroy the plant’s roots by accident, and this would be your evidence. Well, the presence of turkeys around the hosta could signify that there are bugs in the plants.
However, note that if they do not eat the bugs, the bugs might eat your plant’s leaves. You can easily cover back the roots when the turkeys are gone or prevent them from digging the roots.
Groundhogs are little-sized mammals that attack your hosta plants from below. These animals eat both the roots and leaves of your hostas, so the plants may not survive if they are attacked by groundhogs. You can tell that there are groundhogs in your garden if you see holes under or around your plants. Also, you should notice fresh-eating plant roots.
Chipmunks are little, cute mammals that may eat your hosta leaves, especially when they are hungry. Do chipmunks eat hostas? If there are other plants in your garden like vegetables, the chipmunks will leave your hostas alone. So many gardeners say that their hostas are safe even though there are chipmunks in the garden.
You should see little bite marks on multiple leaves in your hosta plants. Chipmunks usually will not completely eat a leaf before they move to the next one. Also, you should see chipmunk poop around your hosta plants if there are chipmunks in the yard.
How To Protect Hostas From Pests
You can protect your hostas from being eaten by spreading iron phosphate, adding a fence, placing a guard dog, installing a motion sensor for animals, using bee traps around them, spraying castor oil, spraying insecticides, and even using homemade repellents.
– Make Use of Iron Phosphate
Iron phosphate in its raw form is a great repellent for slugs and snails. However, it is often mixed with other ingredients to make fertilizer or insecticides. You want to spread the powder or pellets around the root region of your plants. You should see fewer or no gastropods when you use this product as your hostas grow freely.
However, make sure that you follow the instructions so that you do not overfeed your plants with iron and phosphorus. If you see that the leaves of your plants are burning after using iron phosphate, it means that you used too much, or you are not giving your plants enough water.
– Install Fence in the Yard or Garden
Fencing your garden is a great way to keep animals, especially mammals such as deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and others away from your yard. As long as there is a fence, most of these animals will find their food somewhere else. However, you want to make sure that the fence is installed a little deep.
You must be careful that the fence is buried into the soil so that it can prevent voles, groundhogs, and other animals that dig the soil. If a fence is too expensive to use, try making use of a wire mesh just around the plants that are being attacked by pests.
– Placing a Guard Dog
Dogs are great pets as they can make you happy; however, one benefit of having dogs is that they keep pests in your garden or yard. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, groundhogs, and even deer will not enter your garden if there is a dog near the plant that they want to eat. In fact, the pests eating hostas will run away.
Some people collect shed dog fur and urine and spread them around their plants. These can deter mammalian pests that make use of their nose to search for food and avoid predators. If the prey like rabbits and chipmunks smell the scent of their predator, they will go back to where they came from.
– Install Motion Sensors and Pest Repellents
Motion sensors are devices that you can install in your yard or garden to keep pests out. These devices work with a motion that they detect through sight or sound. If they detect the presence of a pest around them, they might either alarm you or deter the pests with a water spray.
You can install motion sensors around your hostas to deter groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, and any pest that attacks your plants at night. Note that the motion sensor devices are not suitable for smaller pests such as insects and cutworms, as they may be difficult to detect, but they work best for the furry animals.
– Make Use of a Beer Trap
A beer trap is a very fine trap to catch and kill snails, slugs, and other similar pests in your garden. The trap is very effective because of the smell of yeast, as snails cannot resist that smell. In addition, you can even pour some beer into a large bowl and keep the bowl near your hosta plants. You can keep as many bowls as you want in different locations.
When the snails and slugs are active at night, they will visit the beer and get drowned in it. The downside of this trap is that you get to dispose of dead mollusks daily. Also, beer may be expensive, considering that you’d need to refill these bowls daily.
– Make Use of Castor Oil
Castor oil is very effective against invertebrates and mammalian pests. To use this product, first dilute one-third of a cup of dish or clothing soap in a five-gallon bucket of water. After that, add three cups of the oil and mix everything thoroughly. You will make use of the mixture in the summer and spring months when pests disturb the leaves of your hostas.
By the end of the fall, you should go get Castor oil pellets, as you would need to spread them around the roots of your plants before the winter. They will help repel any pest that wants to live around or attack the roots of your hostas in winter.
– Buy Plant-safe Insecticides
You can buy plant-safe insecticides for your hostas. These products will deter or kill insects that are attacking the plant. Please go for popular brands that are proven to work so that they do not hurt your plants in the process. You can also make use of some organic plant-safe products.
For example, diatomaceous earth and neem oil are very effective against insects and keeping them away. All you must do is to spray the powder of the diatomaceous earth around the plant. As for the neem oil, you can easily spray it on the leaves and other parts of the plant where you see insects and they would stop coming.
– Make Homemade Repellents
Some homemade repellents are great because they are more likely to work for you. You can make use of garlic and hot pepper spray to deter mammalian pests like rabbits and deer. However, you can even note that you may try to mix soap with water and spray it around the plants to deter rabbits, especially.
The beauty of homemade repellents is that there are so many options to choose from. All you need to do is to ask any gardener around to teach you how they repel their pests, and they will gladly do so.
One downside of homemade repellents is that you need to use them regularly, as their effectiveness fades away quickly, and the latter a concern amongst gardeners.
You do not need to ask “what is eating my hostas?” anymore, as you have seen the major culprits.
Please remember the following:
- The vertebrate pests of hosta plants are deer, rabbits, voles, turkeys, groundhogs, and chipmunks.
- The invertebrate pests of hosta plants are insects, nematodes, snails, and slugs.
- The best way to know your hosta plant pests is to spot them by yourself.
- You may need to check your plants at different times of the day, especially at night to know which pest is eating their leaves.
- To repel night pests, consider installing motion sensors.
Remember to keep your plants free from pests, as they would ruin the beauty and may even damage the plant’s life by eating them and even by multiplying.
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