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What is Eating My Hostas at Night?

If you are an avid gardener, then you have probably experienced your fair share of frustration when you discover that some of your plants have been regularly enjoyed by various wildlife.

It’s not always clear either what animals or insects have decided to make a meal out of your plants which can be even more frustrating when trying to come up with a strategy to try to prevent this from happening.

If you have hostas in your garden, you may have noticed that wildlife seems to love them, which may leave you wondering what is eating your hostas at night. 

What is eating my hostas at night?

Hostas, like many other plants, are a popular choice for all sorts of wildlife to munch on. Animals and insects both large and small love to feast on hostas. There are a few likely suspects which you can read more about below.

7 Animals or insects that may be eating your hostas at night

1. Slugs

Large black slug
Large black slug | image by Animal Record via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Perhaps the most likely culprits are slugs! Slugs are notorious for making a meal out of hostas and many other common garden plants. If you see small little holes on the leaves of your hostas, it is likely that these come from slugs chewing on the leaves. Slugs may also leave behind a slime trail, which is another giveaway that your hostas are being eaten by slugs.

2. Deer

Deer grazing
Deer grazing | image by Joe Haupt via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Arguably a little cuter than slugs, deer are also notorious hosta eaters. In fact, hostas are thought to be one of their favorite foods. They love to eat the soft leaves and tend to leave behind the stems.

If you notice that your hostas are missing their leaves but the stems remain, then you probably have deer visiting your garden.

3. Rabbits

Rabbit eating flower
Rabbit eating flower

Despite their small size, Rabbits are masters of quickly devouring garden plants like hostas. Like deer, they also love the soft leaves of hostas but they will also eat the stems. If you have young hostas in your garden, rabbits might devour the plants all the way down to the root. 

4. Turkeys

Wild turkey in the grassfield
Wild turkey in the grassfield

While most people do not suspect birds to be garden pests, turkeys are known to feed on hostas! At first, turkeys might be more interested in eating the insects in your garden, but that won’t stop them from also eating your plants.

5. Snails

Snail crawling in moss
Snail crawling in moss

Snails are another type of mollusk that absolutely loves hostas. Snails, like slugs, will also chew small holes in the leaves of your hostas until the leaves resemble Swiss cheese! However, snails do not seem to congregate the same way that slugs do in gardens.

6. Voles

water voles eating green plants
Water voles eating green plants | image by Peter Trimming via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Voles, not to be confused with moles, are small, furry rodents that are closely related to hamsters. While adorable, they can cause problems in the garden. Unlike most of the wildlife on this list, voles are not typically interested in the leaves or stems but instead like to feed almost exclusively on the roots of hostas. 

7. Groundhogs

Groundhog on the grass
Groundhog on the grass | image by USFWS Midwest Region via Flickr

Groundhogs are another notorious culprit for eating garden hostas. They love the soft leaves and will also eat the flowers of your hostas which is certainly frustrating! You can typically tell if a groundhog has been eating your hostas by messy or jagged sections of leaves missing. This is because they tend to use their paws first to rip parts of the leaves off before chowing down. 

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How do I stop hostas from being eaten?

If you are sick of your hostas being eaten by various critters, luckily there are a number of things you can do to prevent this from happening!

Fencing

Perhaps the most effective way to keep unwanted critters out of your garden is by using different types of fencing or barriers:

  • Wire Mesh: Surround your hostas with wire mesh or hardware cloth. This can be particularly effective against animals like rabbits and groundhogs.
  • Netting: Use bird netting to cover your hostas. This can deter deer, rabbits, and birds from reaching the plants.
  • Fencing: Install a tall fence around your garden to keep out larger animals like deer. Opt for a fence at least 6 to 8 feet tall to discourage deer from jumping over. 

Repellents

There are repellents that you can buy in stores to put on and around your hostas or repellents you can make at home that will help to keep hungry wildlife away.

  • Scented Repellents: Apply commercially available repellents with strong scents that animals find unpleasant. Look for products specifically designed to repel deer, rabbits, and other pests.
  • DIY Repellents: Create your own repellents using ingredients like garlic, hot peppers, and soap. These can be mixed with water and sprayed on the plants.

Add different plants to your garden

By adding plants to your garden that are not appetizing to wildlife along with your hostas, might help to avoid drawing animals to your hostas.

  • Less Palatable Plants: Surround your hostas with plants that animals are less likely to eat. For example, many animals avoid plants with strong fragrances, prickly leaves, or fuzzy textures, like marigolds.

Raised beds

By not planting hostas directly into the ground, you may avoid certain pests eating your hostas. 

  • Raised Beds: Planting hostas in raised beds can make it more difficult for ground-dwelling animals to reach them.
  • Container Gardening: Plant hostas in large containers that can be moved to safer locations or elevated surfaces during the night.

Try nighttime lighting or sounds

While this approach is not going to work on things like slugs or snails, using bright lights or noises can help scare wildlife away in the night. 

  • Motion-Activated Lights: Install motion-activated lights in your garden to startle and deter nocturnal animals.
  • Wind Chimes: Setting up things like wind chimes can spook wildlife and keep them away from your garden. 

Wildlife removals

When all else fails, consider humanely trapping animals or hiring professionals to come in and safely remove wildlife. 

  • Live Traps: Use humane live traps to catch animals like raccoons and groundhogs. Once trapped, release them in a suitable habitat away from your garden.
  • Hand-Picking: For smaller pests like slugs and snails, go out at night with a flashlight to hand-pick and remove them.