“what is eating my zinnia leaves,” is a concern that has a number of pests or animals which would be eating them. In addition, it may add a feeling of the heat of dealing with dangerous but unknown pests on the zinnia plants.

What Is Eating My Zinnia Leaves

Well, the pests are known and very easy to find. To find and repel the zinnia pests, read this article to be guided.

What Is Eating The Zinnia Leaves?

Pests that attack your zinnia plants and eat the leaves are beetles, aphids, earwigs, slugs, rabbits, caterpillars, fungi, and bacteria. There are different ways to tell that your zinnias were attacked by these pests, from the bites, from observing underneath the leaf, or even the trace they leave.

– Japanese Beetles

These are beetles in the Popillia genus known for their beautiful and shiny outer wings. When you see them, you may be tempted to leave them because they are too beautiful to mess with especially to cause a mess. However, they are also too disastrous to leave on your zinnia leaves. These beetles are herbivorous insects, and they would destroy so many types of plants.

They will eat parts of your zinnia leaves before they move to other leaves. They create irregularly shaped and sized holes in the edges and insides of your zinnia leaves. You can easily tell that they are on your zinnias by checking the plants very early in the morning, through the eaten parts.

– Earwigs

Walking in your garden in the foggy morning or late in the evening, you may see a fast-walking, weird-looking insect with forceps attached to its abdomen. If you continue to observe the insect, you may see it burrowing into the soil to escape from you. This insect is the earwig and it is one hidden insect that feasts on your zinnia leaves, especially at night.

One way to know if there are earwigs eating zinnias in your garden or not is to keep an object such as a log or rock on the garden floor for three or more days. Do not move the object throughout that period.

The next morning, lift the object and examine all the insects and other organisms that you can find. These organisms are the burrowers in your garden and if there are earwigs, you should see them too.

– Aphids

Aphids are common insects attacking vegetables, flowers, and other crops throughout the temperate world. Aphids may not look like much, but they can really disturb you and your plant as they prefer to attack well-cultivated plants. These insects may not show their bite marks, but they are actively sucking life off your zinnias.

Note that aphids enter your garden because of every plant in it and not just your zinnias, so when you see these insects, you want to buy products that can repel them off the garden quickly. We will discuss how to get rid of aphids on zinnias later in this article.

– Caterpillars

Caterpillars are the larvae of lepidopterans like butterflies and moths. While their adult forms are very beautiful and you might want them in your garden, however, you should know that the larvae form should stay as far away from your garden as possible if you want your plants to grow pest-free. Some caterpillars that love the leaves of zinnia plants include cabbage looper larvae, armyworms, and cutworms.

Pests are Eating the Leaves on My Zinnia

While some caterpillars eat the leaves of your garden plants, others attack the plants from below and destroy the roots in the process, leaving tiny marks as they would crawl and eat them. These insects will continue to eat your zinnias until they are ready to transform into adults and slowly but surely destroy the leaves getting their nutrition.

– Wild Rabbits

The wild rabbits are among the few mammals that love to eat zinnias. In addition, rabbits need to eat regularly, so they usually eat whatever they can find, which would man breaking into gardens and eating.

If there are vegetables and other edible plants with sweet products in your garden, rabbits will eat those first. Rabbits operate whenever they want, but they are more active at night. They can eat zinnia flowers, leaves, and other parts of the plants.

Rabbits will usually leave bite marks on your zinnia leaves or eat the leaves completely. On the other hand, you may also leave their fur or their waste around the plant, so you can tell that they visited your plants with those items.

– Slugs

Slugs are nasty creatures that you do not want near your zinnias. They mostly operate at night, especially in gardens near any active water source. They eat your zinnia leaves and create holes in the margins and insides of the leaves.

To tell that there are slugs in your garden, you may also use the “laying an object on the ground for days” technique discussed above.

You can also check for slugs in your garden by examining the plants at night.

– Fungi

Fungi are decomposing microbes that sometimes attack healthy plants, leading to their early death. According to the species of fungi, you may see gray, tan, yellow, or reddish-brown powdery patches in the leaves. You will also see deformed zinnia leaves, especially the old ones that were first attacked by fungi. In addition, you should also notice that the stems are extra weak.

Fungi and other microbes in your zinnia plants can indicate that you are overwatering your plants as these microbes prefer an extra-moist environment. As soon as they notice that your zinnias are suffering from overwatering, they will attack the plants.

– Bacteria

Bacteria are harmful microbes that can be good or bad, but in this case bad to your zinnias, as they would be feeding on them. The bacterial leaf spot is a disease caused by bacteria that give your zinnia plants yellow or brown spots in their leaves. 

Initially, the spots are tiny and round. However, the spots get larger until they have been fully merged. When the spots merge, you will notice that some parts of the leaves will turn black, and this is because of their growing and devouring.

If you see your zinnia leaves turning brown or black, you should check the leaves carefully for leaf spots. Note that bacterial infection can spread easily, so you want to prune off the infected leaves or branches immediately. Also, you should find the cause or source of the infection.


How To Prevent Zinnia From Being Eaten?

To protect the zinnia from being eaten, you might want to isolate it first if it is infected and prune the leaves, make use of fungicides, make homemade bug spray, avoid overwatering them, make homemade organic repellent, and remove the pests by hand when you see them.

– Isolate the Infestation and Prune Them

The first thing that you want to do if you find any sick plant in your garden is to remove it from the other plants so that the disease or pest does not spread. Your zinnia plants with bacteria, fungi, or pests such as beetles and caterpillars should be kept asides, especially when you are growing your plants in pots.

Prevent Leaves on Zinnia To Be Eaten

For plants that you are growing in the ground, you should prune off the branches or leaves infected so that the pest or pathogen does not spread to other nearby plants. If the disease has spread to almost every leaf in a plant, try disposing of the plant. However, you must remember to sterilize your gloves and tools before you use them for other plants.

– Make Use of Fungicides

Fungicides are products that can eliminate fungi from your zinnia plants. A homemade fungicide for zinnias plants is a mixture of baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, or potassium bicarbonate with water.

This solution can stop fungi from spreading in the plant so long as you spray the leaves with it regularly. Note that while baking soda is effective, the latter two products are more effective.

If you are making use of baking soda, you can spray the leaves with water as much as you can. However, the other two products can burn your zinnia leaves if you use them too often, so must make sure that you read and follow the instructions.

– Make Use of Homemade Bug Sprays

Just in case there are more bugs on your zinnias than other types of pests, you can make a simple bug spray solution. All you need for this product is soap and water. Mix water with dish soap and then pour the solution into a spray bottle. You only need to spray the solution on the pests as you see them, and they will either die or leave the plant.

The bug spray dries quickly on the leaves of plants, so do not spray it on leaves to prevent pests from attacking the leaves. Instead, spray it on leaves to kill or repel the pests that are already on the leaves, and this is a simple way to know how to protect zinnias from bugs.

– Do Not Overwater Your Zinnia Plants

Overwatering zinnias as well as other garden plants is a major cause of the bacterial attack, hence they will happily feed on the plant’s leaves since the medium for them becomes an ideal one to develop.

When you give the plants more water than they need, you are killing some of their roots, making the plant susceptible to harmful microbes. You should only water the plants when the plants require water.

Wait until the surface of the zinnia substrate is dry before you water the plant. You can tell if the substrate is dry or not by feeling it with your fingers. You can also dip a moisture reader into the substrate for a more accurate result.

– Make Homemade Organic Repellent

There are so many types of homemade organic repellents that you can use. For example, neem oil is an excellent and popular choice as it has been proven to work several times. This product can prevent the eggs of insects and other pests on your zinnia plants from hatching. It also repels beetles, caterpillars, and other pests from your plants.

On the other hand, another homemade product is a mixture of hot pepper powder and water. If you have mammals eating the leaves of your zinnias and other plants in your garden, make use of this product as it will repel them from the plants. 

– Remove Pests When You See Them

The cheapest and perhaps most effective way to protect your zinnias from pests is to remove the pests immediately after you see them. Since most of the zinnia pests are bugs, you can make use of your bare hands and then wash your hands later. However, you can also use your gloves or a stick to remove the pests.

Get rid of pest infestation on Zinnia Leaves

Remember that you must take the pests as far away from the plant as possible so that they do not return and harm the leaves again. If you can, you should kill the pest so that it does not disturb your plants anymore. In addition, you may even place them in a soap-water solution to get rid of them.


What does slug damage on Zinnia Leaves look like?

Slug damage on Zinnia leaves appears as irregular holes and chewed edges. Implement slug control measures to protect your plants.

How often should I spray my Zinnia Leaves?

Spray Zinnia leaves every 7-10 days with a mild insecticidal soap to prevent pest infestations and maintain plant health.

Will underwatering cause my Zinnia Leaves to be eaten?

Underwatering won’t directly cause Zinnia leaf damage, but stressed plants may attract pests that can eat the leaves. Ensure proper watering to prevent issues.


Now you know so many zinnia pests and diseases as well as prevent them.

Remember the following points that we covered so far:

  • Overwatering your zinnias can lead to severe problems, so only water the plants when you need to.
  • For nocturnal pests, you may need to visit your plants very late at night or early in the morning to discover them.
  • You can pick most pests on your plants with your hands. They may be scary, but they will not harm you.
  • Homemade fungicides and insecticides will save you a lot of money as well as protect your plants from disease and pests.
  • If your zinnias are infected with bacteria or fungi, you should prune off the infected leaves and isolate the sick plant from healthy ones.

Why not head to your garden and monitor your zinnias to make sure that they are safe and pest-free? You have all the right ways to tackle them and save your plant.

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