Cucumbers are an interesting vegetable – or is it a fruit? No matter which side of this famous debate you fall on, we can likely agree that cucumbers can make a crisp and refreshing addition to anyone’s garden.
Here are 10 common animals that love eating cucumbers:
- Rats and mice
- Squash bugs
- Red Spider Mites
Each of these creatures has its own set of unique characteristics, but the two things they have in common are that they are happy to eat your cucumber plants, and they are likely to cause damage to your vegetable garden.
Let’s dig into how to spot activity from these animals and how you can stop them in their tracks!
- Cucumbers are targeted by a variety of animals such as chipmunks, rabbits, and deer.
- Repelling cucumbers is achieved through multiple different ways such as physical barriers and scent barriers.
- Identifying which animal is damaging your cucumbers is essential to formulate preventative measures.
1. Squirrels Love Eating Cucumbers
Squirrels are a common pest for home and garden owners and they come in a variety of species themselves. What makes squirrels a greater pest despite their size is their sharp front teeth that help them bite into or through a number of your plants.
Why Squirrels Love Cucumbers
Now, you might be thinking, don’t squirrels prefer nuts? Why would squirrels eat my cucumber plants?
Cucumbers help satisfy squirrels’ desire for a meal and also quench their thirst. Because cucumbers have such a high water content, in addition to filling their bellies, cucumbers also keep squirrels hydrated!
Are you interested in making your garden unwelcoming to squirrels? Check out our article on the things that attract squirrels to your yard, so you can know how to stop them.
How To Repel Squirrels From Your Cucumbers
Because squirrels can take only a few bites of your cucumbers and leave the rest of it to rot away, not only are they damaging your cucumber crop, but they’re also wasting food! Here are a few recommendations on how to keep squirrels away from your cucumber plants.
- Plant strong-smelling herbs near your vegetable garden: Scent can be a very helpful deterrent to pests, and this is exactly the case with squirrels. Squirrels don’t like strong scents like mint and garlic, so consider adding these plants to your vegetable or nearby herb garden to help keep squirrels out.
- Use Sices: If you have powdered cinnamon or nutmeg handy, you can also sprinkle these spices around the base of your plants to deter squirrels from entering. You can take a more in-depth look at how to use cinnamon to repel squirrels here.
- Use bird netting to cover your cucumber plants: While this product was initially meant to keep birds from eating your seeds and other plants before they’re fully developed, bird netting has proven effective against squirrels, too!
Ruolan Bird Netting comes in different sizes and can be used to cover your cucumbers or other plants that you’ve noticed pests nibbling on. This netting doesn’t rust or tangle and can even be reused for next year’s cucumber crop!
2. Deer Are Known For Eating Cucumbers
Deer are considered herbivores so they live off of vegetation whether they come across it in the wild or find it in your vegetable garden. While deer will prefer to eat the foliage of your cucumber plants, they will eat the cucumber itself despite its prickly-like texture if they’re hungry enough.
Michigan State University tells us that damage done to cucumber plants above 3 feet high is often due to deer because most other critters cannot reach that high. This can make it easier to identify damage to most plants, although cucumber plants are more of a ground/vine plant than one that grows upright.
How To Keep Deer Away From Your Cucumbers
- Install A Fence: Fencing in your garden is a highly effective way to keep many pests from our list away from your cucumber plants, but the size of your garden and the type of fence you want to install can be costly additions.
If you’re able to add a fence to your garden, great, but don’t fret. Here are some less costly alternatives for keeping deer away from your cucumber plants.
- Hang bars of soap in nearby trees: We’re not trying to make your yard look like a weird version of Christmastime to a passerby, but hanging bars of soap or placing the slivers of soap from your bathroom in your garden as a deer deterrent can be quite effective.
Since deer have a strong sense of smell, quartering a bar of Irish Spring bar soap and hanging it around the perimeter of your yard or garden has been shown to deter deer for several weeks without needing replenishment. You can also check out our guide on the 5 simple steps to using soap to repel deer.
Alternatively, you could also shred these bars of soap and sprinkle the shavings around the base of your plants or around the perimeter of your garden to get the same effect without having to string the soap.
- Use a deer deterrent spray: There are a lot of deer deterrent sprays on the market, so we recommend that you do your research before using a spray on any of your plants and even reach out to your local expert.
When considering the best spray treatment for your plants, take into account the active ingredients in the spray, whether it’s harmful to beneficial insects, and any other concerns that you may have to ensure you’re making the best choice.
3. Rabbits Have A Habit Of Eating Cucumbers
The appetite of rabbits is not one to be toyed with. While some homes have domesticated rabbits or bunnies as pets, rabbits outside of the home don’t have a regularly provided food source so they go out and get it themselves.
Because rabbits eat mostly leafy greens, they’re most likely to eat your cucumber plant’s leaves and flowers, and it wouldn’t be surprising for them to leave the cucumber alone.
The good news is that your cucumbers can still be harvested if this is the case. But if rabbits get to your cucumber plants before they’ve started to produce cucumbers, you’ll likely be cucumber-less for the season.
How To Repel Rabbits From Cucumbers
- Use Plant Cages In Early Stages: You might be able to use plant cages to cover your cucumber plants while they’re in their early stages of growth, but eventually, they will need to be removed to allow the plant to grow and develop to produce cucumbers.
- Sprinkle powders around your cucumber plants: Depending on what you may have readily available in your home, you can use spices like ground chili and ground red pepper around your plants to deter rabbits from getting too close.
Because rabbits are such great sniffers, they’ll get a whiff of these scents and move on to another spot. If you don’t have peppers or chili around, you can take a look at the other scents that rabbits hate to see if you have them handy!
- Let your dog play outside: If you have a dog, they’ve probably already chased a few rabbits out of your yard. Since these two animals are natural enemies, your dog’s presence is likely enough to keep rabbits out of your garden, even if they are in the area.
4. Rats And Mice Eat Cucumbers
Because these two rodents are relatively similar in their taste for cucumbers, we decided to put them together in a single reference section for treatment, but please keep in mind that these are two different rodents.
Both rats and mice love to eat plants that are fresh and juicy, so cucumbers make a perfect snack. These rodents will bite into and eat your cucumbers, the cucumber plant leaves, and even the stems. You can read more about the reasons mice are drawn to your garden here.
How To Deter Rats And Mice From The Garden
If you notice rodent activity in your garden, taking immediate action is important because an infestation can happen quickly if the proper steps aren’t taken.
- Put your cat to work: If you have a cat that you allow outdoors, having them monitor your garden is a great way to keep mice and rats out because of their predator status.
- Clean up any damaged plants in your garden: Plants and produce from your garden can be damaged naturally and by pests. If you notice that vegetables have fallen from their plant or that plants have been damaged, remove them as soon as you see them.
Rats and mice like to take cover in these fallen materials, and if your cucumbers have fallen to the ground, they are an easily accessible meal for these rodents.
- If needed, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local pest professional: Because rodent activity can turn into a full-on infestation so quickly, don’t delay in reaching out to your local pest professional for help determining the most effective and efficient way to get rid of rats and mice. Use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a pest pro!
5. Voles Love To Eat Cucumbers
Voles are small creatures that dig shallow tunnels for protection and transportation. When it comes to your cucumber plants, voles can damage the plant’s root system, but they are also happy to pluck pieces of cucumber off and eat them too.
To spot vole activity, keep an eye out for tunnel openings about one to two inches wide with a lack of dirt piled around the opening. Also, look out for any nearby torn-up plants located close to these tunnels.
How To Protect Your Cucumbers From Voles
- Put Up A Fence: Because voles are tunneling pests, if you decide to fence in your garden or individual plants, be sure to bury the fence material several inches into the ground to stop voles from damaging the plant’s root system.
- Fill openings that could be a part of their tunnel system. If you spot these openings that could be used for travel, filling and closing off these tunnels is an important step in keeping voles out. Consider using a product like Expanding Spiced Tunnel Fill to close off these tunnels.
The best part of this product is that it’s easy to use. All you do is pour the product into the hole and add water. The pellet-like material then expands, pushing voles out of the tunnel and ultimately sealing it off.
- Weed your garden and keep plants properly trimmed. Weeds and low-hanging plants in your garden give voles cover to eat your cucumbers and help hide their holes. Since voles prefer to stay hidden while they eat, consider keeping your garden trimmed to prevent unnecessary ground cover for these pests.
- Use traps. When in doubt, traps are an option to help eliminate your vole problem. Placing traps near the openings of their tunnels is your best bet as they will come and go from the opening several times throughout the day.
If you do use traps for voles, or any other pest, be sure to check the traps daily. If you want more ideas on what you can use to repel voles, check out our article about the things that voles hate.
6. Shrews Snack On Cucumbers
Because there are different species of shrews, their diet can vary from insects to plants to seeds. For the plant and seed-eating shrews, cucumbers make the perfect meal!
How To Repel Shrews From Your Cucumber Plants
Shrews have poor eyesight, but can move surprisingly fast despite this, making them hard to spot in your garden. If you’re able to spot one of these creatures, here are some ways to stop them from returning.
- Keep your grass height short. Shrews prefer darker areas to make into their hiding spots, so keeping your lawn cut and making sure that any low-hanging plants or shrubs near your garden are trimmed is a great deterrent.
- Choose where you store your firewood carefully. Similar to the above, wood piles make a great hiding spot for shrews and other pests. If you dry your wood outdoors, consider storing your firewood near the perimeter of your yard or in a corner if you don’t have a shed or interior location for storing it.
- Remove additional food sources. Easy access to other food sources like pet food and bird seed can attract shrews to your yard. If your pet has their meals outside, bring any leftovers inside and try relocating your bird feeders to an area of your yard away from your garden.
7. Chipmunks Are known For Attacking Cucumber Plants
You would think that cucumbers would be too big for chipmunks to eat, but nope. Whether it’s the leaves of the plant or the tiny cucumbers as they begin to grow, chipmunks are happy to snag these tasty treats for themselves.
If you’re not sure whether the holes in your yard are from chipmunks or some other critter, you can read about how to identify chipmunk holes here.
How To Keep Chipmunks Away From Cucumbers
Chipmunks are a troublesome pest because they are so common and usually have such a high population that they’re almost always bound to be in the area. Since you may not be able to capture every chipmunk in your yard, we recommend focusing on protecting your plants instead of trying to catch them.
- Cover your cucumber plants with bird netting: Yep, you guessed it. Just like the bird netting that can help keep squirrels from eating your plants, it’s just as effective for chipmunks!
- Use hot pepper spray: You can make your plant pepper spray by combining water and cayenne pepper powder in a spray bottle and spraying your plants regularly.
Since the spray is all-natural, it’s safe to use on the plants, but we would still recommend thoroughly washing your cucumbers and other produce you may have treated before eating to ensure any remaining pepper spray has been washed off.
8. Woodchucks Love Eating Cucumbers
Okay, woodchucks may not be the most common animal that you’ll have roaming your vegetable garden, but depending on your location it may not be too far-fetched to see these creatures roaming your yard for a meal.
From the flowers on the plants to the cucumber itself, both are appetizing snacks to woodchucks.
How To Repel Woodchucks From Your Cucumbers
- Use strong scents: Since woodchucks have sensitive noses, they keep away from certain pungent smells. Consider spreading red pepper or garlic around your garden, or you can also incorporate some plants such as mint and rosemary as a natural repellent. We have a full list of scents that groundhogs (woodchucks) hate right here!
- Let your dog outside: If you have a pet dog, their presence in the yard is a great deterrent. With their strong sense of smell, your dog will likely alert you immediately if there’s a pest like a woodchuck in your garden.
- Place live traps: You’ll want to check with your local wildlife preserve to ensure that there aren’t any fines for catching and releasing woodchucks back into nature.
If you’re comfortable with trapping and there aren’t any restrictions in your area, strategically place traps where you’ve seen woodchuck activity and you’ll be able to relocate the animal.
9. Squash Bugs Eat Cucumber Plants
Cucumbers are not squash, we realize that, but this grayish brown, flat-backed bug will still come for your cucumbers.
If squash bugs have laid their eggs on your cucumber plants, as the immature bugs grow, they’ll feed off the juice of the cucumber plant leaves. With this continuous drain of nutrients, the leaves will dry out and die, eventually killing off the entire cucumber plant.
While these bugs can be a half-inch long in many cases, because of their color it can make them a challenge to find in your garden. If you notice your cucumber plant leaves drying out, check the flowers and cucumbers themselves for these bugs and take action.
How To Deter Squash Bugs
- Pick squash bugs right off your plants: Squash bugs can hide under leaves and around the flowers of your cucumber plants, so they can be hard to detect. If you’re up for the challenge, inspect your plants regularly and toss any bugs you find in a bucket of soapy water to get rid of them.
- DIY squash bug trap: Since these bugs like to hide under leaves, you can also place a piece of newspaper near your cucumber plants. The squash bugs will likely flock to the paper overnight for an easy collection come morning.
- Use an insecticide, but only if it’s needed: Insecticides may only be needed in cases where the squash bugs are attacking your cucumbers early in the season or if you notice a dramatic increase in their population.
Before using this treatment, take into consideration what level of squash bug activity you have if you can pick the creatures off yourself, and reach out to your local pest professional for recommendations on insecticides if it’s determined they’re needed.
10. Red Spider Mites Attack Cucumber Plants
Cucumbers are just one of the many vegetables in your garden that could be attracting red spider mites.
You’ll be able to spot spider mite damage by the light-colored dots appearing on your plant leaves and the leaves turning yellow and falling off. There may even be the presence of a spider web-like covering on the leaves.
How To Repel Red Spider Mites
- Add plants to your garden that will deter spider mites: There are certain vegetables that spider mites aren’t a fan of, and adding them to your garden should help minimize any activity in your garden.
Consider adding some of these veggies to your garden as a deterrent and to add to your vegetable harvest:
|Reason Spider Mites Don’t Like Them
|Strong odor and sulfur compounds act as a natural repellent
|Pungent aroma and sulfur compounds deter spider mites
|Strong scent and sulfur compounds repel spider mites
|Aromatic compounds and strong flavor act as a natural deterrent
|Fragrant oils and strong flavor discourage spider mites
|Aromatic oils and pungent taste repel spider mites
|Strong aroma and bitter taste deter spider mites
- Keep your garden watered: This is a simple yet effective way to keep spider mites at bay. This bug prefers dry environments, so if you’re regularly watering your garden, you won’t see this bug around much.
- Spray your cucumber plants with plant-based essential oil: Essential oils that may have been derived from plants like garlic, rosemary, or clove can be used as a treatment for spider mites. Spray the mixture on all parts of your cucumber plants, and your mite problem will quickly disappear.
Final Thoughts On Protecting Your Cucumbers
Each of the pests from our list has some unique techniques for eating or otherwise damaging your cucumber plants. Being watchful of your garden and determining what specific damage is occurring is important in picking the best treatment method.
Consider adding a variety of plants to your garden to help deter common pests, fencing in plants when you can, and inspecting your plants regularly to help spot any activity before it gets out of control.
To recap, here are the 10 animals that love eating cucumber:
- Rats & Mice
- Squash Bugs
- Spider Mites
With a combination of the right treatments, you’re sure to have a plentiful cucumber crop for your family and friends and – most importantly – yourself!
Bonjour, E. L., Fargo, W. S., Al-Obaidi, A. A., & Payton, M. E. (1993). Host effects on reproduction and adult longevity of squash bugs (Heteroptera: Coreidae). Environmental Entomology, 22(6), 1344-1348.
Kaur, S., Kaur, S., Srinivasan, R., Cheema, D. S., Lal, T., Ghai, T. R., & Chadha, M. L. (2010). Monitoring of major pests on cucumber, sweet pepper, and tomato under net-house conditions in Punjab, India. Pest Management in Horticultural Ecosystems, 16(2), 148-155.
Murmu, A., Mukherjee, G. D., Chaudhuri, S., & Dutta, S. K. (1996). A note on the feeding and other activities of the five striped squirrel (Funambulus pennanti) in the fruit gardens of West Bengal. Records of the Zoological Survey of India, 95(3-4), 123-127.
York, A. (1992). Pests of cucurbit crops: marrow, pumpkin, squash, melon and cucumber. Vegetable crop pests, 139-161.
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