What Is Eating My Plants?

A snail on a pink flower.

Do your plants seem to be growing less and look like they're falling apart? Are you wondering what might be happening to them? More than likely, a pesky creature has made your plants their buffet table and it’s time for you to do something about it.

In order to get rid of the pests that are nibbling on your plants, you’ll need to find out which type of creature is doing the damage. From furry creatures to slimy slugs, you’ll be able to recognize them. Each critter will leave you a sign through its eating patterns.


An earwig eating a leaf.

These frightful looking bugs eat both living and dead organisms. From eggs to aphids and fruits to plants, they devour their meals with their rear-facing pincers. They also create irregular shaped holes along the sides and through the centers of the leaves. You can spot them by carefully pulling back your plants at soil level. There are a variety of earwig repellent products available.


Birds tear and rip at plants with their beaks. If you’re noticing that your plants have large rips and tears, then you’ll probably need a bird repellent product. You can also consider placing netting over your plants to keep the birds from getting to them.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles eating a leaf.

These beetles have shiny, metallic bodies and feast on leaves and flowers. They typically eat through the middle of leaves, creating a lace-like effect on the tissue. Their larvae grubs are often found in lawns and create brown patches in green grass. As with other insect repellents, look for a product specifically for these bugs. Be sure the chemicals will not damage your lawn or other plants.


It’s amazing the amount of plants that caterpillars can devour. If you notice a large amount of your plants are missing, caterpillars might just be the culprit. Caterpillars will create irregular holes, getting at both new and old plant growth. There are some that will eat away at your seedlings right at the level of soil, causing the plants to fall over. Look for butterflies fluttering over your gardens and stopping to lay eggs on the leaves. Check for a non-toxic product to get rid of these pests.


A rabbit in a garden.

Rabbits favor new plant growth and will neatly trim stems and leaves. They might try an older plant, but typically will not eat the whole thing, preferring to find more tender plants to chew. The damage caused by rabbits tends to be found close to the soil level. They may also chew at the bark found on woody plants, particularly between autumn and winter.

Slugs and Snails

A slug eating a green leaf.

These slimy creatures like to have their meals in areas that are shaded and moist. They will snack on plants in sunny areas if they have a spot to hide under mulch, rocks, and pots. While many insects eat their way from the edge of a leaf to the center, these critters tend to make irregular shapes in leaves, not necessarily nibbling along the edges. The best way to find these insects is to go looking for them at night with a flashlight. Carefully pull back the leaves and shine the light on the soil. Slugs and snails chew an unbelievable amount of plant material and leave a trail of slime behind them. Once again, choose a repellent product developed specifically for these pests.


Once you've determined which type of pesky creature you have eating away at your plants, visit your local hardware store and speak with a sales representative about your situation. These professionals will help you find the best repellent product to get rid of creatures that are damaging your plants. Keep in mind that these repellent products typically contain chemicals that can be harmful to children and pets. Be sure to read all of the directions provided by the manufacturer before using these products. Always store them in a safe spot out of reach of your children and pets.