09 April 2008

What's Eating You?

One of the many things we've learned since we started gardening is that with the great joys there are also extreme aggravations. This property can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Our recent bit of fury comes from a mysterious pest that is eating the pea sprouts.

I think we can rule out groundhogs, deer, and rabbits. There is just too much fence for that to be a possibility. Meg thought perhaps that is was the work of squirrels, but what ever it is, it left the seed. Actually there doesn't seem to be any mammal amounts of digging at all. I did see an ant colony, but it was in another bed all together. I know they're industrious, but would they really travel that far for a little green grub?

If you can't tell, we are at a loss with this one. Now I know the photo of the eaten sprout isn't the best, but it was the best I could do. If any of you have a theory about what it might be, please send a remedy our way.


Robbyn said...

Hope you find out what it is! Something digs in our buckets and pots so much it leaves similar holes...J has had to put wire mesh over the most vulnerable areas for that reason. Good luck in hunting down the culprit :)

Woody said...


Anonymous said...

I think you've got the culprit in the photo. Enlarge the photo. Look at the bottom right corner of the pea. See that grub/worm/larva thing? Betcha that's it.

Anonymous said...

Good eye Robin, I had to look twice even with your advice.

I wonder about moles or voles -- is there tunneling?

At my house it would be the wretched dog -- he LOVES pea shoots.


katie said...

In our neck of the woods (WV) the slugs are one of the first vermin to come out. Leaving the seed behind would be consistent with a slug attack.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here's my five cents' worth: I think a grub would have cut the stems but left the tops lying there. (Though mind you, I could be wrong.) My money's on crows.

Kelly said...

Looks like mole/vole action to me. Though I'm so often wrong.

Right now we seem to have a population explosion with the squirrels in the hood, and as my neighbor said, those in-bred black squirrels that Kent is known for are so tenacious. They're digging holes in every inch of lawn and garden, so everything is covered with unrolled fencing...and something weird with all of the oaks this year--they produced way more acorns than usual.

El said...

My money's on the voles. I caught two just today in the greenhouse. I used mice traps baited with one little sunflower seed each. However, I haven't had that much damage to the garden proper with them because I have raised beds. The sweet potatoes were the one pricey exception.

Anyway, those fuckers will eat anything! Good luck.

Anonymous said...

At our old place we couldn't grow sunflowers because the chipmunks would dig up each and every tiny seed. Good luck finding your varmint.

Jean Ann said...

I wouldn't put anything past squirrels...but I have never known them to eat shoots...whatever you have I don't want it!

vegmonkey said...

My money's on tigers, betcha...it's those telltale teeth marks, unmistakable! :)

CeeCee said...

In the second photo there is very obvious ant action. I know in the early spring around here, the ants are hard at work eating all things green and sprouting. Although, I doubt they'd eat an entire crop.
I hope you find out what it is.

Kelly said...

I'm hoping we don't have to add wire mesh. If it gets to that I'll sit out there on a rocker with a shotgun.

I really hope not. I may set some traps just to be safe.

Meg has been telling me to go to the eye doctor for a while now. I can't believe I didn't see that. We have plans to build a chicken mower and it looks like we should get that going soon.

There isn't any tunneling and just the tops are gone. A pea shoot eating dog? Interesting.

We're not far from West Virginia. It might be slugs or some other other kind of bug. As I said to Robin, we need to get our chicken mower running soon so we don't have to deal with too much of this later.

There are a bunch or crows around here. But wouldn't they eat the seed too?

That is so strange. Meg and I have also noticed an unbelievable increase in the squirrel population. I used to like squirrels, but their recent excavation of our lawn and gardens has me fit to spit.

You know, I don't think I've ever even seen a vole. However, if mouse traps do the trick then I'll set a few to play it safe. Meg and I are the only fuckers I want eating our peas.

We used to have problems with chipmunks when I was a kid living in Western PA, but I really haven't noticed too many around here.

Jean Ann,
Squirrels are nasty, but whatever this is, it's just mean.

Oh man, that's funny.

What ever it is, it hasn't devoured the whole crop, just enough to make us mad. The ant colony in the second photo, after it was taken, had an unfortunate run in with a stick bearing gardener.

NW Nature Nut said...

My mom had voles eating stuff in her garden and she found someone who had a ferret for a pet and collected the poop and put it down the holes. It keeps the voles away because they smell the "predator".

Anonymous said...

Voles are voracious, and I think they are a real possibility, but my vote is on sparrows. I was stumped most of last summer after losing bed after bed of lettuce seedlings. Then I set up a stakeout and watched flight after flight of European Sparrows swarm in and hop down the row eating all the exposed tops.

My solution was to string jute twine across the tops of the fencing (I used rebar chunks as posts on the unfenced beds) and that did the trick. All beds thus protected thrived.

Good Luck!