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7 Animals That Eat Blue Fescue (Quick Facts)

Blue fescue, a type of blue grass, is a popular choice for gardens and a food source for a wide variety of species. This plant can be a key part of their diets, from tiny insects to bigger mammals. In this article, we’ll explore some of the animals that eat blue fescue, highlighting the surprising connections between this common plant and the animal kingdom.

7 Animals that eat blue fescue

Blue fescue is a small semi-evergreen grass that originates from Europe. People often use it as an ornamental grass because its attractive blue-silver foliage adds color and interest to the landscape all year round.

This grass can stay green in mild climates or become brown in harsh winter conditions. During early summer, blue fescue produces light green flowers with a purple tinge. The flowers also form flower spikes that can develop brown seed heads.

People often plant it for its ornamental appeal, as it adds unique texture and color to landscaping. But if certain animals get ahold of these plants, they can cause a lot of damage. This can ruin the way the plants look and possibly kill them. Knowing which animals might harm them and taking appropriate measures, could save you time and money.

1. Elk

An elk in the grass
An elk in the grass | Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Cervus canadensis

Elk, known for being primary grazers, may include blue fescue in their diet, especially when their preferred vegetation is scarce. Even though it isn’t an essential part of an elk’s diet, this attractive grass could be at risk in locations with a big elk population. 

Because an elk’s diet changes with the seasons and has the propensity to graze on a wide variety of grasses, it’s advisable to consider the chance that elk may eat your blue fescue if there are elk in the region where you live. 

2. Horses

Wild horses in arizona salt river
Wild horses in arizona salt river | image by Rick.Grybos via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name:Equus ferus caballus

Blue fescue may be included in horses’ diets since they’re herbivores used to a forage diet of grasses and other plant material. As horses can eat approximately 50% or more of their body weight in forage each day, even ornamental grasses like blue fescue might be an appealing snack. 

It’s important to consider the possible vulnerability of blue fescue to grazing, particularly in areas where horses are common in the environment.

3. Sparrows

House Sparrows
House Sparrows | Image by https://megapixel.click – betexion – photos for free from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Passeridae

It’s likely that sparrows, which are known for their flexible and opportunistic eating behaviors, consume blue fescue seeds when given the chance. Sparrows are primarily seed-eaters, and they may be drawn to the caryopsis of blue fescue, particularly during the summer months when these grasses generate seeds. 

This emphasizes the importance of considering potential bird-plant interactions when cultivating blue fescue, as sparrows could eat your ornamental grass if they’re prevalent in your local area.

4. Goat

Domestic goat
Domestic goat | image by Daniela via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
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Scientific Name: Capra aegagrus hircus

One of the animals you may see grazing on your plant is goats, which are browsing animals that have a diverse diet that includes a wide range of plant species. They have a reputation for chewing on almost anything that looks like plant matter and eagerly exploring it to find things that might be edible. 

Goats consume the tips of woody shrubs, trees, and broad-leaved plants as part of their diet. Due to this, blue fescue, a cool-season perennial grass, can potentially become a valuable addition to their diet. The tolerance of blue fescue to heavy grazing makes it a potential food source for goats if it’s present in their surroundings. 

5. Finches

Purple finch perched on wood
Purple finch perched on wood | image by Fyn Kynd via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Fringillidae

Finches are known for their granivorous habits, primarily feeding on various plant seeds, including those from grasses like the blue fescue. The seeds produced by blue fescue provide a source of nutrition for these birds, while the plant’s foliage can serve as potential nesting material

This allows them to utilize these food sources that might be inaccessible to other animals, thus increasing their survival chances. Aside from sparrows and finches, there are numerous bird species that would readily feed on blue fescue seed. 

blue fescue sign
Blue fescue | image by Jim, the Photographer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

6. Sheep

A flock of sheep grazing
A flock of sheep grazing | image by Katriona McCarthy via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Ovis aries

The grazing habits and herbivorous diet of sheep make it easy for them to consume a wide variety of grasses, including blue fescue. Sheep may easily include this drought- and shade-resistant cool-season grass into their diversified diet. 

Even though there is a chance of overgrazing because sheep can eat plants near the ground, rotating grazing can lessen this problem. Therefore, you may use them to help you control invasive plant species.  

7. Caterpillars

silver spotted skipper caterpillar
Silver Spotted Skipper Caterpillar | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Lepidoptera

The caterpillar stage of some moth and butterfly species may also eat blue fescue. It’s important for being the primary food supply for the Silver-spotted Skipper, a rare species. The plant also supports several grass moths, including the Agriphila inquinatella and the caterpillars of the Small Heath, Gatekeeper, Greyling, and Marbled White butterflies.

As a diligent gardener, you must actively monitor the blue fescue for any potential infestations that may threaten its overall health and hinder its growth.