Squash is a famous summer vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked to a tender flavor. It’s soft and juicy on the inside and is rich in fiber and protein.
It is also pretty low on calories containing about 95% of water. You can easily grow it in your backyard.
Squash is often mistaken for a vegetable and misidentified as a pumpkin. Since it contains seeds and develops from flowers, botanically, it is a fruit.
If you live around places that many mammals consider home, there’s a high chance they will become a threat to your squash plantation within a short period.
This article talks more about these animals and how you can keep your garden off limits to them.
11 Animals That Eat Squash
Raccoons can be quite damaging to gardens. They will eat the squash and its seeds and devour the vines, flowers, and surrounding leaves.
Apart from its tasty appeal, squash is one of the major sources of nutrients for deer.
No doubt it is a favorite for them and other herbivores alike. They will scan through squash vines and even eat the seeds.
3. Woodchucks (Groundhogs)
Woodchucks (Groundhogs) are omnivores and consume a lot of fruits and vegetable leaves— squash is one of their favorites. They particularly chew on the plant’s foliage, especially at its young and tender age.
You must fence your plants with chicken wire or hardware cloth to protect them.
Squirrels are notorious for consuming almost anything, and squash is certainly not an exemption.
These animals will eat every bit of it and come back for more because of its great taste.
Rabbits love to gnaw on squash fruits, leaves, and flowers. What’s worrying is they eat fast, and a small group can do considerable damage to your squash plants in a short time.
Rats are popular troublemakers and can wreak havoc on your garden. It is vital to keep them away from your fruits and vegetables because they will do all they can to satisfy their hunger.
Dogs are attracted to the sweet and juicy flesh of the squash. They also tend to gnaw on the stalk and vine of the plants, which weakens them.
Squash is juicy and full of vitamins and minerals, essential for many animals.
Mice like to feed on the leaves and stems of squash plants, rendering them unpresentable and leaving openings for pathogens and other pests to invade.
Armadillos are expert diggers and can ruin your squash produce in no time. They typically target the roots rendering the plants lifeless.
Porcupines are the second largest rodents in North America and love to feast on garden plants. No wonder squash and pumpkin are high on their favorite list.
Many insects are easily attracted to squash plants. These include beetles, ants, grasshoppers, and stink bugs.
Most of the time, they are tough to notice and can be frustrating. The fruits will appear half-eaten, and sometimes only a few leaves will be missing from the plant.
Other signs include:
How To Stop Animals From Destroying Your Squash Garden?
1. Fence Your Garden
Fencing your garden is one of the most effective ways to keep your vegetable plants off limits to animals.
There are so many types of fences you can choose to build as a barricade— wooden, plastic, hardware cloth, and mesh wire work pretty well.
Building a fence is not cheap, especially the electric ones. On the other hand, a simple chicken wire fence can suffice depending on the garden and the type of animal you’re protecting it against.
2. Grow Repulsive Plants
The first step to tackling animals that eat squash is to identify the specific type harming your plants. Once you’ve recognized them, you can grow a plant that will repel them. For example:
● Mullein and hyssop are plants that can repel a deer.
● Rabbits do not like azalea, boxwood, or peony plants.
You can grow them around or in the middle of the main plants. These plants will act as a natural barrier.
3. Use Insecticides
Diatomaceous Earth is pretty effective in eliminating all kinds of pests. All it requires is spreading on the soil surrounding the roots.
You can also use wood ashes as a substitute.
4. Use Raised Beds for Your Garden
Building raised beds in the garden keeps out weeds and makes the garden easier to tend to. Many insects and pests that may burrow themselves in these weeds will not have easy access to the plants.
You can make the raised beds with concrete blocks, wood, or bricks. It should be built several inches off the ground to prevent animals like rabbits from reaching the plants.
5. Use covers
Covers are essential for growing plants, including young squash plants. A cover can prevent animals from nibbling on them and stunting their growth.
You can easily buy and use garden fabrics for covers or opt for bird or deer netting. You can also decide to add a fence along with a garden cover.
6. Make Use of Sprays
The main reason why animals come to the garden in the first place is because of the smell of squash they perceive— it is quite appealing to them.
One way to prevent this is by using sprays to mask the scent coming from your garden.
The spray can be spicy or unappealing to make the animals steer clear. It can also be the scent of a predator.
These repellents will stop wandering animals from getting to your squash garden.
Sprays can either be bought in garden stores or homemade.
7. Use Scare Tactics
You can train pets like cats and dogs to chase off any animal coming close to the garden. For instance, German Shepherds do this job exceptionally well if adequately trained.
Alternatively, you can choose to use a scarecrow to keep the animals off. There are different kinds, some of which can detect motion and sound an alarm or spray water on detecting an invader.
8. Use Traps
Traps work pretty well on rodents such as rats, mice, and rabbits. You could also use them for other animals.
However, you will first need to verify the legality of doing so with your local wildlife department.
You can use snap traps with any food as bait. Place them in specific places where you’ve seen the animals or around plants that animals have nibbled on.
Squash is not just a fruit that tastes nice but has a lot of health benefits and is advised by nutritionists to incorporate into a diet. Animals are particularly attracted to it because it is soft, juicy, and nutritious.
Unfortunately, if left unchecked, these animals can quickly decimate an entire squash field in no time, leaving you to bear the damages.
Use this guide to look out for the presence of the usual culprits. Once identified, use the simple methods described above to secure your plants.