Growing vegetables in your garden can be satisfying. Seeing those veggies growing and getting to enjoy the fruits of your efforts is a feeling hard to compare with anything else. But sometimes, growing vegetables also involves dealing with pests ruining your crops.
If one day you wake up to notice your sweet potato vines covered with holes, you might be wondering: “what is eating my sweet potato leaves?”. In that case, you are in the right place to find out!
What’s Eating My Sweet Potato Leaves: Insects that Like to Eat Sweet Potato
Several insects like to feed on sweet potato plants. The measures you should take to prevent them from doing it depends on the species that attack you. Keep an eye out for:
Holes in your sweet potato plant vines’ leaves result from bugs chewing on them. You may tell which insect is causing trouble to your crops by inspecting the underside and the ground to look for telltale signs.
How to Treat Sweet Potato For Insects
Try not to use chemical pesticides to treat your sweet potatoes unless necessary.
Always prefer natural remedies over insecticides, especially when the infestation isn’t severe. Indeed, using chemicals might harm beneficial insects and pollinators.
Plus, they might damage other plants and affect the quality of your crops. But jump to the following sections to learn more about the option you have to get rid of insects from your sweet potato plants.
Products that contain spinosad or pyrethrin work well to destroy bugs that might be attacking your sweet potatoes.
Go to your favorite gardening store (or online) and look for Monterey Garden Insect Spray or Safer Home and Garden Spray: they work for most beetles and caterpillars that often bother sweet potato plants.
One of the best ways to naturally get rid of bugs is to plant adequate companions. Sunflowers and Black-eyed Susans will attract beneficial pollinators that keep pests away. Alternatively, plant herbs: their scents repel insects who will stay away from your crops.
One of the best remedies is to handpick the bugs and place them in a bucket with soapy water to kill them. You can also spray your plant with neem oil or a solution of water and dish soap. Don’t forget that natural remedies take more time to be effective. You will have to repeat the procedure as many times as possible.
Animals that Like to Eat Sweet Potato
Besides insects, animals might also damage your sweet potato crops. The species you may have to deal with when growing these plants involve:
- Groundhogs – They spend most of their life underground, so it may be hard to spot them. But if you notice soil hills around your garden, you can suspect they are your problem. They will eat your sweet potato plants starting from the tubers.
- Squirrels – These animals prefer munching new tender leaves on your sweet potatoes plants.
- Voles- If you don’t know what they are, these rodents are similar to mice and about six inches long. They tend to create damage to the ground. But if you don’t take action, they will start eating your sweet potatoes’ leaves and kill your plants.
These animals are the most likely to cause problems to your crops as they love munching on the plants’ vines.
Because they are diggers, the damage they cause usually concentrates close to the ground. But what can you do to stop animals from eating your sweet potatoes? Jump to the following section to find out.
How to Stop Animals from Eating Sweet Potato
To repel burrowing pests, you can try castor oil repellents: they will make the area around your plants undesirable for animals like groundhogs and voles.
Alternatively, if you have a dog or a cat, consider leaving them outdoors: small mammals will avoid getting to your property. Or you can always purchase products that resemble urine predators.
Hot pepper might also repel these animals, but it is less effective. Blood meal granules do a better job, plus it provides you with the added benefit of fertilization. Don’t forget that you will have to reapply these remedies after rainfalls or strong winds.
Another measure you should consider is to enclose your sweet potatoes around a fence. Combine that protection with an underground barrier to prevent gophers from digging around your plants.
Related Article: Sweet Potato Companion Plants