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What Is Eating My Hostas? (And How To Stop It)

For many years, the hosta has held a special place as one of the most beloved garden plants. Regrettably, this exquisite plant faces numerous natural adversaries that have an appetite for its leaves and stems.

Slugs and snails rank among the primary culprits responsible for devouring hostas. To shield your hosta from these ravenous creatures, employing iron phosphate granules and traps is recommended. As for other pests, employing fences and repellents can prove effective.

Further details on these protective measures will be provided in the subsequent sections, where you’ll also gain insights into additional creatures that pose a threat to hostas and how to manage them.

Slugs and snails

What Is Eating My Hostas

Hosta leaves are damaged by slugs.

In the midst of hot and humid weather, hosta enthusiasts often encounter a new challenge: the presence of snails and slugs. When spring unfolds with warmth, these voracious pests can inflict substantial damage, nearly consuming young hosta leaves.

During rainy summer spells, the snail population multiplies rapidly, making their management increasingly challenging.

Effective Control Measures

The most potent remedy to combat these intruders is the use of iron phosphate, which is conveniently available in pellet form. Simply distribute a small quantity of pellets beneath each plant, periodically replenishing them as needed.

Alternatively, traps can also be employed to capture these pests.

It’s worth noting that certain hosta varieties boast thick leaves that are less susceptible to being devoured by snails and slugs.

Read more: How to get rid of Slugs on Hostas?

Deer

What Is Eating My Hostas

Hosta leaves are damaged by deer

For those with a fondness for hostas, deer pose yet another challenge. The deer population has been on the rise in recent times, and these creatures are progressively encroaching upon residential areas in their quest for sustenance.

As depicted in the image above, it takes mere minutes for deer to decimate all the leaves of a hosta plant. Consequently, if you reside in suburban areas, this issue is likely to make its way to your doorstep.

While plants damaged by deer won’t perish, they will suffer significant stunting, leaving you without the pleasure of admiring them throughout the season, with the anticipation of their return in the following year.

Effective Control Measures

Many gardeners concur that a sturdy fence is the most reliable means of safeguarding their plants, although it can be a substantial expense, especially for those with expansive yards.

Dogs can also be an effective deterrent against these uninvited guests, given their long history of guarding human territories.

Another popular approach involves crafting homemade repellents. Numerous recipes are available, and they tend to be quite efficacious. You can even find garlic-based repellents for purchase online.

Read more: Do Deer Eat Hostas?

Rabbits

What Is Eating My Hostas

Hosta leaves damaged by rabbits

As depicted in the image above, rabbits also have a taste for hostas, a fact well-documented in online resources, which often highlight the significant damage they can inflict upon these plants.

When hostas are young and tender, these pests are capable of consuming them down to the ground. In cases where the leaves have matured, rabbits tend to target the softer, young foliage. Although the damaged plants can recover, their visual appeal may be compromised.

Effective Control Measures

Given their relatively large size, rabbits can be deterred from your hostas through the use of fencing.

Another practical approach is to employ live traps, which can prove to be quite effective.

For a convenient and cost-effective means of keeping rabbits at bay in your garden, consider using moth flakes.

Chipmunks

What Is Eating My Hostas

Hosta leaves damaged by chipmunks

Chipmunks have a penchant for hosta leaves, as evident in the image above. However, it’s important to note that not all hosta enthusiasts will necessarily contend with chipmunk intrusions, as some gardeners report no issues with them.

Nevertheless, if you reside in suburban areas, it’s wise to be prepared to address this potential pest.

Effective Control Measures

Given their diminutive size, conventional fencing is not a practical solution for deterring chipmunks. Instead, an effective approach is to place mothballs beneath the hosta bushes, as chipmunks are averse to their scent and tend to avoid them.

Additionally, sprinkling pepper powder around the plants can be a helpful deterrent.

Voles

what eats hostas

The rhizome of hosta are damaged by voles

One of the most formidable threats, not only to hostas but to all ornamental plants, comes in the form of voles. These pests possess the capability to swiftly devastate an entire flowerbed, with their activity being particularly pronounced during winter when food becomes scarce.

Voles primarily subsist on plant roots, with the image above illustrating damage to a rhizome that became apparent in the spring after a winter infestation. In reality, these voracious pests can inflict even more extensive harm.

I strongly advise against waiting for such an ordeal to befall your garden. If you even harbor the slightest suspicion of voles, it’s imperative to take immediate measures to protect your plants.

Effective Control Measures

Castor oil stands out as a highly effective remedy against voles, offering affordability and the advantage of being non-toxic.

To prepare this solution, dilute 1/3 cup of dish soap in 5 gallons of water, then add 3 cups of castor oil and thoroughly mix. Generously distribute this solution beneath each bush.

Read more: Do Groundhogs Eat Hostas?

Insects

what eats hostas

Insects pose a grave threat to hostas, with the potential to inflict such severe damage that the hosta plant may ultimately perish. When you detect signs of insect damage, it’s crucial to take swift and decisive action.

Let’s first identify which insects have a penchant for consuming hostas. Among the less harmful culprits are mealybugs, box beetles, whiteflies, and aphids. These pests do not consume hosta leaves but rather pierce the plant’s tissues to feed on its sap.

Now, let’s address insects that can cause substantial harm to hostas, such as the black grape weevil, which nibbles on hosta leaves along the edges.

Effective Control Measures

To deter most insects from attacking hostas, Neem oil proves to be an effective solution. Simply dilute a teaspoon of soap in a gallon of water, add two tablespoons of Neem oil, and thoroughly mix the concoction. Proceed to spray the plants using a sprayer.

Alternatively, a variety of high-quality insecticides are readily available in the market. These can be dissolved in water and applied to the plants. Typically, one or two applications should suffice for the entire season. It’s essential to use appropriate personal protective equipment when working with these chemicals.

Read more: How to Protect Hosta Plants From Bugs?

Cutworms

how to stop hostas being eaten

Cutworms

Cutworms, which are the larvae of moths, have a penchant for devouring hosta leaves, and in some cases, they can even harm the plant’s stems. When it comes to hostas, these pests leave behind conspicuous large holes in the leaves.

Cutworms are relatively sizable larvae and can be visible, but they tend to feed primarily during nighttime hours, making them elusive to catch.

Effective Control Measures

The most potent method for eradicating these pests involves applying Diatomaceous Earth around each hosta bush. Upon contact with this substance, the larva succumbs to dehydration.

Another effective approach is to employ an insecticide by spraying the leaves. A couple of sprays at the onset of the season should suffice to keep cutworms at bay.

Nematodes

how to stop hostas being eaten

Nematodes

Nematodes also pose a threat to hosta leaves. These fascinating creatures are microscopic worms, invisible to the naked eye.

Residing within the plant, nematodes traverse its tissues. During the summer, as leaves mature, nematodes ascend from the rhizome up the stem to the leaves. They consume the leaves from the inside, leaving desiccated streaks between the leaf veins.

Effective Control Measures

Regrettably, there are no effective methods for controlling nematodes. The sole recourse available is to trim back the leaves and stems of the hosta in mid-August, a period when the nematodes are still within the leaves.

It’s imperative to dispose of the cut leaves away from the yard or incinerate them. Never leave the leaves to decompose in the garden, as nematode proliferation can be expected come the next spring.

Read more: Hosta Foliar Nematodes

Dee

Friday 6th of October 2023

My hostas plants and my impatiens were totally defoliated by insects. Noticed many caterpillars there climbing on my house walls. All I have left is impatiens stems which I pulled and the shredded hostas veins which look like fine grass.what will fix that problem?

Igor Viznyy

Tuesday 17th of October 2023

Hi Dee. In your case I would recommend contacting a local pest control company as it is difficult to get rid of large numbers of caterpillars on your own.

Wendy

Monday 31st of July 2023

Help! My hosta stems are being eaten off and devoured! They leave the leafs behind. What is doing this?

Igor Viznyy

Sunday 20th of August 2023

Hi, Wendy. It could be chipmunks or other rodents.