Petunias are a colorful plant that’s a member of the nightshade family. Not only are petunias lovely to look at, but they’re also known for having an appealing scent.
People are drawn to petunias, but so are many garden pests. In fact, there are many pests that will feed on petunias and destroy these beautiful flowers.
What’s Eating My Petunias?
Petunias are a target for both bugs and mammals. Pests that eat your petunias are snails, cutworms, squirrels, and deer.
Petunia Eating Pests
If you’ve spotted signs of damage on your petunias, you should try to identify the pest so that you can deal with the infestation effectively.
Knowing more about these pests will help you, the more you can do to fight back.
Aphids are tiny sap-sucking insects that can terrorize gardens. Petunias, for example, are deprived of vital nutrients, which finally causes the plant to wilt and die.
When a plant is being attacked by aphids, its leaves will start to yellow and wilt. Since aphids often attack plants as a colony, you may also be able to spot them as they feed.
Mealybugs are a kind of scale insect that feeds on plants all around the world. Like aphids, the bug’s primary source of food is a plant’s sap.
These bugs are covered in a white, powdery substance. When they feed off a plant, they’ll leave some of that powder behind on its leaves.
Budworms are a type of moth caterpillar that can do serious damage to plants like petunias. They chew on the buds of flowers, destroying them before they have a chance to bloom.
You can spot budworms by looking for holes in your petunia’s buds and flowers. Budworms may also leave behind tiny black droppings.
4. Spider Mites
You won’t always be able to see the miniscule holes that these mites leave behind, but you will be able to see their webs.
The webs can usually be found on the bottoms of leaves and resemble silk.
These moth larvae lurk beneath the soil during the day, waiting until night to feed off the stem of plants. Eventually, this will cut down the plant, which is where the larvae get their name.
If there are petunias in your garden that have topped over, or if the stems of some of your plants have been partially cut through, you’re probably dealing with cutworms.
You can also usually find cutworms by moving around the surface of the soil around your plants.
Snails are happy to eat just about any plant in your garden. Your petunias are most likely to be targeted by snails as they’re starting to bloom.
If you can see slime trails on your petunias, it’s safe to assume that your garden has been infested by slugs or snails. When snails feed, they also leave behind holes in a plant’s leaves.
Slugs love to feed on the leaves of the plants, even plants that are wilting or dying. Since snails have a large appetite, they can kill plants if their feeding isn’t stopped.
As mentioned above, slime is a tell-tale sign of slugs. Not only can you find these slime trails on the leaves of your plants, but you’ll also see them on the soil below.
Rabbits are known for eating produce, but many people don’t know that they like to eat flowers as well. In addition to petunias, they’ll chomp on pansies and marigolds.
When rabbits feed on plants, they usually eat the entire leaf, which means they won’t leave any holes behind. However, they will leave behind pellet-like droppings.
A squirrel’s teeth will continue to grow for its entire life. In order to keep their teeth from getting too long, squirrels chew on plants like petunias.
If a squirrel has been gnawing on your petunias, there’s a good chance that it will leave bite marks behind. Squirrels also have a habit of digging holes in garden beds.
Deer love to feed on flowers, especially when they’ve been fertilized. While many garden pests are active during the summer, deer are more likely to feed on plants during the fall.
Typically, deer feed around dawn, which can make it hard to spot them in your garden. However, deer do leave behind tracks and large droppings after they feed.
What to do about Petunia Pests?
Lots of pests like to target petunias, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on growing this flower in your garden.
There are many natural pesticides you can use to keep bugs away, including diatomaceous earth and neem oil.
Another way to deal with bugs is to add predator insects to your yard. You can purchase helpful insects like ladybugs and praying mantises at many garden stores.
If you’re dealing with slugs or snails, try setting a trap! You can catch these pests by leaving out a shallow container of flat beer or setting out grapefruit rinds in your garden overnight.
Slugs and snails are also a food source for birds. Try adding a birdbath to your garden, and it won’t be long before these pests disappear from your yard.
Most mammals that feed on petunias have a very strong sense of smell, which means you can deter them with odors.
Numerous species of animals are deterred by garlic, and you can even try spraying predator urine on your flowers.
Frequently Asked Questions About What is Eating my Petunias
Are Petunias Poisonous?
Even though petunias are a part of the nightshade family, they’re not toxic or poisonous. While this is one of the reason they’re a food source for pests, it also means they’re safe to grow if you have cats or dogs.
Should Petunias Be Pinched Back?
Pinching back flowers could help to revive a petunia plant. Squeeze the stem’s tip between your thumb and fingers to extract a flower.