Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) is a fun and easy squash variety to grow in your home garden. It’s a fast-growing plant that produces an abundance of long green squash that resemble cucumbers.
The large plant leaves and large yellow blooms also make this vegetable plant attractive in the garden. The blooms attract pollinators, so you are helping the bee population to survive with each zucchini plant that you grow.
Several animals eat zucchini and can wipe out the entire crop if you’re not diligent in keeping an eye on the plants. Animals from the tiniest aphid to the largest deer enjoy the taste of the zucchini plants and their produce.
Here is a list of the most common animals that eat zucchini and a few tips for how to protect your crop from them.
If you want to find out why Your Zucchini is Turning Yellow and Rotting, I encourage you to read this article.
These tiny animals are the size of a grain of rice, and they suck the sap out of plants. They are soft-bodied and pale green and congregate on the underside of new leaves and tender plant stems.
Their piercing mouth parts go into the leaves and stems and suck all the sap from that area of the plant. Then they will relocate to another part of the plant. The zucchini plant will slowly wither and die before it has a chance to produce squash.
Regularly check under the plant leaves and along the stems. if you discover a colony of aphids on the plants, blast them off with a water hose.
How to Get Rid of Aphids:
- Spray your zucchini with a strong stream of water
- Use Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and any horticultural oils
- Wipe or spray your zucchini leaves with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dish soap.
- Use Diatomaceous earth (DE), a non-toxic, organic material that helps dehydrate aphids.
- Avoid applying DE when your plants bloom, as it will kill pollinators, including bees and butterflies, when and if they come into contact with it.
Deer find all parts of the zucchini plant irresistible and will eat the entire plant back to the ground. The deer typically do not eat the zucchini, just the plant.
Fencing is the best option for keeping this deer out of the garden. Some gardeners string fishing lines around the perimeter of the garden to act as an invisible fence. Others find that motion sensor lighting or water sprinklers will deter the deer from eating your plants.
How To Keep Deer Away From Zucchini Plants:
- Installing a fence is considered to be the most effective way to keep deer from eating up zucchini plants
- Using heavily scented products is one effective way of keeping deer away from your garden.
- Place bar soap near your zucchini plants
- Scatter human hair around your zucchini plants because the scent of human hair might help prevent deer from entering a garden.
- Add a motion sensor near your zucchini plants. You can use solar-powered motion sensor units to frighten deer away.
- Install a motion-triggered device that sprays water or makes some noise for better results, as a deer herd may quickly understand that certain lights and repetitive sounds pose no real threat.
The family pet or a stray dog in the garden may enjoy gnawing on the zucchini plants and squash. The plants and squash are crunchy, tender, sweet, and full of moisture, and dogs seem to like this combination.
Fencing seems to be the best option for deterring this animal from eating zucchini.
How To Keep Dog Away From Zucchini Plants:
- To keep him away, spray plants with strong white vinegar or apple bitter.
- You can also plant marigolds as one of the most effective zucchini companion plants, as it also repels dogs and other backyard pests, including aphids, whiteflies, and squash bugs.
- Use an animal decoy to help stop dogs from approaching your zucchini plants.
- Try this Animal Deterrent Device with Red LED Lights, which only light at night and mimic a predator’s hungry and ferocious eyes.
4- Cucumber Beetle
This small animal that eats zucchini is small and has a black and yellow striped body. The coloration makes it very easy to spot when it’s on your zucchini plant.
Cucumber beetles not only eat the plant leaves and the small zucchini squash but can also spread deadly bacterial wilt disease that will wipe out the entire crop.
Keep the weeds removed from the garden so the cucumber beetle will not have a place to lay eggs, and this animal will soon be eradicated from your garden.
Also, the use of dark mulch or landscape fabric around the zucchini plants seems to discourage these animals from feasting on your zucchini plants.
How To Control Cucumber Beetles:
- When it comes to protecting your zucchini from cucumber beetles, prevention is better. Ensure to check for cucumber beetles early in the season.
- Use trap crops: Use yellow sticky traps to catch cucumber beetles successfully.
- Keep your garden clean: Pull weeds in and around your plants because they may be possible hosts for adults.
- Use a physical barrier: You can try to protect your zucchini by building a floating row cover or using something similar during early to mid-June to prevent the striped cucumber beetles from your plants. Do not forget to remove the barrier when your zucchini start to flower.
- Use pesticides: I suggest you use pesticides only when it is necessary. Expert gardeners from the University of Minnesota recommend applying a pesticide if you find two or more beetles on 25% of your plants.
This woodland critter, also known as a woodchuck, loves to eat any type of plant. They are members of the squirrel family and look like obese squirrels with short tails.
Groundhogs live in burrows in the ground and are not above digging a new home in or near a garden, so they won’t have to travel far to feast.
Groundhogs are omnivores that eat grasses, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. They will nibble on the leaves of the zucchini plants as high up are they can reach by standing on their hind legs.
Ragged bottom leaves and oval-shaped black droppings let you know a groundhog is eating your zucchini.
How To Keep Groundhogs Away From Zucchini Plants:
- Fencing made from chicken wire is usually sufficient for keeping this animal out of your garden.
- Sprinkle Epsom salts near or around the burrow entrances or exits will keep the groundhog away.
- You can also place a tin pie plate loaded with Epsom salts near your zucchini.
- Pouring Castor oil in and around the burrow holes can discourage them as they hate the smell. But apply only when you know they are burrowed.
6- Mice And Rats
These small and destructive animals love to eat zucchini leaves. Mice and rats will nibble on the lower leaves of the plants and bite out chunks of the developing squash.
Small bite marks on the lower parts of the plants and small black rat droppings indicate mice and rats are eating your zucchini.
Mice traps and rat poisoning work to rid the garden of these animals. However, you have to be careful using these things if you have pets. Chicken wire fencing will help keep the rodents away from your zucchini plants.
How To Keep Mice And Rats Away From Zucchini Plants:
- Strong herbal scents, including basil, echinacea, garlic, and thyme, deter most rats and mice.
- Keep your garden tidy because well-maintained gardens are less likely to attract rats as they provide less coverage.
- Regularly move things around because rats are known to be ‘neo-phobic,’ meaning they fear new things.
- Keep an eye on crops: Generally, rats will eat squash, so once harvested, keep them somewhere secure. If you suspect rats have nibbled stored or growing crops, don’t eat them.
7- Owlet Moths
These are night-flying animals that lay eggs that develop into zucchini-loving larvae. The adult owlet moths use their mouth parts to tunnel into the tender stems and suck the plant sap.
They can also penetrate the tender skin of developing zucchini and suck out the sweet juices. These moths are small and grayish-tan in color.
The larvae (also known as cutworms and armyworms) are about 1 inch long and have colorations of brown, green, and yellow. They are voracious eaters and will eat their way through a crop of zucchini, leaving nothing but destruction in their path.
How Do You Get Rid Of Owlet Moths:
- The moths are attracted to light, so don’t use decorative lighting around your garden.
- Insecticide (either organic or chemical) will be needed to get rid of owlet moths and their larvae.
- Use vinegar and wash and scrub any places where you found larvae or eggs with vinegar and water.
These furry animals eat zucchini and any other garden vegetable they can reach. Rabbits love the zucchini plant’s tender stems, leaves, and flowers and will stand on their hind legs to reach as high up on the plant as possible.
The buck-toothed bite marks and raisin-sized black pellets they leave behind will alert you to a rabbit problem in the garden.
How To Keep Rabbits From Eating Zucchini:
- Fencing will keep the rabbits out of the garden, or covering the plants with netting will deter this animal from eating the zucchini.
- Try dusting your plants with plain talcum powder to discourage rabbits from invading your zucchini.
- Because rabbits are big sniffers, powdered red pepper spread around the garden or on zucchini plants may keep them out.
- You can also make rabbit repellent as follows:
- Fill a one-gallon container with water.
- Crush five garlic cloves and add them to the water.
- After that, add a teaspoon of crushed red peppers and one tablespoon of dish soap.
- Shake the container very well
- And then keep it outdoors in the direct sun for two days
This woodland critter is an opportunistic feeder and will eat almost anything, including zucchini.
Raccoons will devour the entire plant, not just the squash. They are very destructive animals and will destroy the garden.
How To Keep Raccoons Away From Zucchini Plants:
- Fencing will keep them out of the garden.
- Baited traps can be used to catch them so they can be relocated to a safe place far away from your zucchini plants.
- Try scattering blood meals around zucchini plants to keep raccoons at a distance.
- You can also grind up garlic, blend it with an equal portion of chili powder, and sprinkle it around the garden.
- Sprinkle wood ashes around your plants.
Squirrels thrive in the city as well as in the country, and they love to eat fresh garden produce. They will nibble their way through all the produce, ruining tomatoes, corn, eggplant, beans, etc., by taking just a couple of bites out of the ripe vegetables. However, when this animal finds zucchini plants, it won’t stop until the plant is stripped.
Zucchini continue to produce from early spring until mid-summer, and when the squirrels discover that, they will return time and time again to feast until the plant is stripped clean of leaves and squash.
How To Keep Squirrels Away From Zucchini Plants:
- Fencing is no match for a determined squirrel. They are excellent climbers and jumpers.
- Covering each zucchini plant with chicken wire will keep the squirrels from eating it.
- Baited traps can be used to catch squirrels and relocate them.
- Add hot peppers as a natural squirrel repellent: Squirrels hate the smell and taste of capsaicin in hot peppers.
- Plant squirrel-repelling flowers: Add zucchini companion plants like marigolds to naturally keep away squirrels.
11- Squash Bugs
These are the most common animals that eat zucchini since all squash varieties are their food of choice. Just before the seedling flowers and just after the flower opens is the most vulnerable time for the zucchini plant to be attacked by squash bugs.
The squash bug is flat, gray, and about half an inch long. They suck the sap out of the leaves and plant, making it wilt. They lay groups of tiny eggs on the leaves so that the larvae will have a ready meal when they hatch.
How To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs On Zucchini Plants:
- Use a DIY spray made from 1 part dish soap and 9 parts water to get rid of the squash bugs.
- Duct tape will remove the groupings of eggs off the leaves quickly without damaging the leaves.
- Keep your gardens clean and remove all old cucurbit vines and crop or leaf debris. After removing their winter hiding places, squash bugs rarely survive the cold.
These are the 11 Animals that eat zucchini, along with effective ways to get rid of them or keep them away.
If you’re not diligent in keeping an eye on the plants, these animals will eat your zucchini plants and will even wipe out your entire garden.