What is eating my zucchini leaves? Aphids target zucchini more than any other pest. And ants like to eat the sticky, sweet substance that aphids produce.
So, if you see ants on your zucchini plants, they might be a telltale sign that aphids are around.
But many other insects and animals might be waiting for you to leave your crop unsupervised to feat on those big, luscious, green leaves.
Insects that Like to Eat Zucchini
- Aphids. Technically, they attack the leaves by sucking the juices from them. But the result is a damaged leaf, which curls and wilts.
- Cucumber beetles. These bugs will skeletonize your plants and eat your zucchini to the ground.
- Spider mites. Usually, they hide and lay their eggs under the leaves. These arachnids come out when the temperatures rise and colonize your plants if left unattended. When it is hot, spider mites double their population within three days. So, act quickly!
- Squash bugs. These insects overwinter around your garden, waiting to move onto your zucchini plant and lay their bronze-color eggs.
- Squash vine borers. For clarity, these pests are related to dogwood borers but fly during the day even though they are moths. And although the adult moths may not eat your zucchini leaves, their larvae will surely do.
How to Treat Zucchini For Insects
Not every insect dies because of the use of insecticides. But products with imidacloprid work against most of them—to the extent that no feeding damage appears. Of course, you have to be careful when using such a moderately toxic insecticide.
Choose a pest-resistant variety. For instance, a Rampicante has woodier stems. So, it is harder for squash vine borers to use them as nests for their larvae. Of course, you can research other varieties and plan your garden the way you want it.
Floating row covers work well with relatively large insects like cucumber beetles while allowing light to shine on your crop. On top of that, they lower the risk of more severe infestations. And reduce the need to use a lot of insecticides.
Often, you can remove the eggs or squish them between your thumb and index finger. Some insects lay their eggs on the zucchini leaves in view for you to find them.
But other insects are more sneaky and will hide their small eggs, making them virtually impossible to detect until it is too late. Then again, some insects are just borers and tunnel into the main stalks of your zucchini and degrade the plants’ integrity.
Spiders also like to eat harmful insects for your zucchini. Let them be.
Animals that Like to Eat Zucchini
- Groundhogs are herbivores and like to eat your veggies, including your zucchini plants. Mainly, they feast on grasses and leaves that are easily accessible and abundant. And sadly, groundhogs can bring huge crop losses because they move underground, and no fence can stop them.
- Rabbits eat zucchini because these veggies are beneficial supplements for their diets. Above all, they find zucchini tasty and chew them away without a second thought. Usually, they nibble on the leaves and munch the zucchini skin to get more nutrients. When they only bite the fruit or the leaves without eating them, that is a sign that the vegetables may still contain toxic traces of chemicals—at least for them to keep eating them.
- Rodents like rats and squirrels love eating zucchini plant leaves and fruits. In general, they munch on everything you grow in your vegetable garden. And they are neophobic—they do not like new things— and will keep coming back to your garden until you do something about them.
How to Stop Animals from Eating Zucchini
Growing your zucchini on trellises or a squash arch can prevent groundhogs from eating your zucchini leaves.
If you have a rat problem, extermination would be the best solution. After all, rats roam everywhere, causing havoc and destruction. Plus, these animals can transmit several diseases and contaminate your field with their urine.
To keep rabbits away, you can install rabbit-proof fences and surround your garden with rabbit-resistant plants. Or use repellents.
But if you find proof that those pesky mammals visit your vegetable garden, inspect your plants. Bunnies tend to hide inside your backyard farm. After all, that is where the food is, so why move?
Related Article: Zucchini Companion Plants