Cucumbers are easily grown in many gardens, and with their crisp texture and refreshing flavor, they are a staple in salads, sandwiches, and even as a healthy snack on their own. This sentiment is shared amongst many animals, and as a result, your precious cucumber plants could fall victim to the appetites of several garden visitors.
In this article, we’ll delve into the intriguing world of animals that eat cucumbers, uncovering 12 species with a particular fondness for this garden delight.
12 Animals that eat cucumbers
Cucumbers, loved for their versatility in the culinary world, are also widely loved by many different types of insects and animals. We uncover some of those species and make some suggestions for guarding your cucumber plants, and other garden veggies!
1. Eastern Cottontail Rabbits
Scientific name: Sylvilagus floridanus
Cottontail rabbits, known for their adorable ears and voracious appetites, are common in gardens. Unfortunately, they often turn their attention to cucumber plants. Their fondness for tender greens extends to cucumber leaves and stems, resulting in nibbled vegetation that can be frustrating. To protect your cucumbers, consider using protective measures such as installing garden fencing or planting cucumbers in raised beds.
2. White-tailed deer
Scientific name: Odocoileus virginianus
White-tailed deer might find cucumber plants irresistible when they visit your garden. These grazers can pose a significant threat to your cucumber crops. To prevent your garden from becoming a deer buffet, you can implement deer-resistant strategies like the use of scent-based deterrents or installing physical barriers such as fencing.
The appetite of deer does not stop at cucumbers, so keep a careful eye on the rest of your vegetables and garden plants.
3. Slugs and Snails
Scientific name: Gastropoda
Slugs and snails are notorious pests in gardens, as they are certainly not picky when it comes to their diet! Cucumbers are just one of the many vegetables they may snack on in your garden.
They mostly come out at night and won’t stop at your cucumber plants, so watch out for the leaves, shoots, and fruits of many garden plants. Try starting your cucumber seeds indoors first so that the young shoots aren’t as vulnerable to these slimy pests.
4. Japanese Beetles
Scientific name: Popillia japonica
Japanese beetles are brightly colored beetles boasting blue and copper metallic coloration that you may see flying around the garden. Despite their attractive appearance, they are major pests that can be a nuisance in gardens and also have an appetite for cucumber plants.
These voracious feeders can leave behind a trail of skeletonized, brown leaves. To protect your cucumber plants from these invasive insects, consider removing the beetles by hand, or via a gentle spray from the hose. Alternatively, you can use home-made soap mixtures, or commercial pesticides on your plants.
Scientific name: Mus musculus
House mice and field mice, with their inquisitive natures, have occasionally been observed nibbling on cucumber plants. While the damage they inflict is generally minor, larger mouse populations can collectively impact your cucumber crop.
Keep their numbers in check by maintaining a clean garden environment, and eliminating potential hiding spots. If the problem persists, you may want to consider trapping the mice or using natural deterrents to protect your garden.
6. Woodchucks (Groundhogs)
Scientific name: Marmota monax
Woodchucks, renowned for their burrowing habits, might indulge in cucumbers while also causing damage to the plant’s root system through their burrowing activities. To protect your cucumber plants from these underground pests, consider implementing mesh barriers around your plants, making sure to bury the fencing at least 12 inches or so underground. Filling in burrow entrances may also be helpful to slow their activity.
Scientific name: Sciuridae
Curious squirrels have been known to take a nibble on garden cucumbers, particularly when searching for hydration and sustenance. Using barriers to stop them from eating your cucumber plants can be tricky since they are so dextrous and agile.
Instead, try some natural remedies to deter them, such as sprinkling hot chili flakes around the plants, or spraying a concoction of garlic and vinegar. It may sound strange, but this should keep those pesky squirrels at bay!
Scientific name: Didelphidae
Opossums, the nocturnal creatures you may see wandering through gardens, occasionally enjoy cucumbers as part of their diet. While they might not be the primary culprits when it comes to cucumber damage, they are worth keeping an eye out for!
If you can find where they are getting into your garden, try blocking the entrance to keep them out. However, there are commercial opossum repellents and natural alternatives such as chili and garlic that can be used to keep them away from cucumber plants.
Scientific name: Tamias striatus
These small, lively rodents have also been observed taking a nibble on cucumber plants. Though their individual impact might be small, they are still worth mentioning and can be a particular problem for some gardeners depending on where you live. Fine mesh fencing can be placed around the plants to protect them.
10. Squash Bugs
Scientific name: Anasa
A prominent member of the cucumber-eating community is the squash bug. These pests, often mistaken for stink bugs, have a particular affinity for cucumbers and other members of the squash family. They can cause wilting, yellowing, and stunted growth in cucumber plants.
Carefully monitoring your plants and promptly removing the bugs by hand is usually enough to manage squash bug populations and protect your cucumber crops. However, there are pesticide options available as well.
Scientific name: Aphidoidea
Aphids are tiny sap-sucking insects that are not to be left out from the roster of cucumber enthusiasts. These pests often infest cucumber plants, causing stunted growth, curling leaves, and spreading plant diseases.
Act quickly if you think your plants are infested by using a strong stream of water to remove them from plants. Adding some soap to your water spray can also help manage aphid populations and protect your cucumbers.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
The House sparrows, often found near gardens and urban areas, might occasionally peck at cucumber fruits. While their impact is generally minimal, their curiosity might draw them to the vibrancy of your cucumber patch.
Some other birds that can cause similar damage to cucumber plants are species of finches, pigeons, and doves. Birds will typically leave your vegetable patch alone, as long as there are other sources of food around. If you’re having an issue with birds eating your cucumbers, try introducing a bird feeder to distract them.