What decapitated my plants

bart1(6/7 Northern VA)June 12, 2014

I had some extra plants sitting in cell paks, in a plastic tray in my driveway, and the other morning I noticed that all but one was cut off just above ground level.

It's not really a big deal since they were extras, but I'm wondering what did it. We have chipmonks and rabbits all over the place, but nothing was eaten, the plants were just cut down.

Would a cutworm be able to cross the driveway, climb into the plastic tray and then back up into the cell paks?

Here's a photo (removed from the tray). It's a little hard to tell, but all the plants except the one on the far left are chopped off just above ground level.

Who did this?


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Birds would be my guess.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:13AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Hard to buy into cutworms unless that was garden soil in the containers and even then odds are slim.

I'd figure it was a mammal pest of some kind or birds. My rabbits usually eat what they cut off but my deer love to leave me situations like in your photo. Got any deer?


    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:17AM
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oh that is so infuriating! I am sorry to see that. Same thing happened to me last year. I never saw what did it, but for some reason i thought squirrels?

I got some of that spray (something with dried blood, garlic, and other noxious things) to deter them and it stopped after that. Unfortunately it smelled so terribly when you initially spray it, my husband said he would never use it again!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:19AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

Yep! Lots of deer.

I figured deer would eat everything too, like the rabbits.

I didn't know birds would cut a plant off at the soil. What are they trying to do?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 11:20AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

The birds are looking for nesting materials and insects. In the process the plants get various forms of damage including snipped off.

My deer eat some of the leaves but don't like the stems so they just bite them off. The type and amount of the damage depends on where they are in the process when they get startled enough to leave.

My squirrels won't eat leaves, they wait for the fruit. Same with the raccoon.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 12:01PM
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dowbright(z6 in Missouri)

That happened to me with ground squirrels. I'm not sure what else to call them, but I saw them doing it with my own eyes! They are smaller than squirrels, and have a darker stripe down their back.

I had to turn to 5-gal. buckets half-filled with water and the top covered with sunflower seeds and a board on it with seeds to induce them to dive in. Sounds cruel, but it's the only way we were going to get any food from anything in our garden. It worked, and the replanted garden lived and grew.

I try to live and let live, and am willing to share with the guys who live out there...But they weren't letting any of my plants live. So I did what I had to do if we wanted to eat organic food.

Since my husband has cancer, fresh-grown, poison-free food is essential for us.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 2:28PM
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When you say "cover the top with sunflower seeds", do you mean the water surface? Do the seeds eventually absorb water and sink?

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 3:34PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I've seen squirrels damaging small containers and potted plants in the yard. I had a new order of Iris bulbs that they dug out of 4" pots and took off with. I saw the iris bulb in it's mouth and they left one w bite marks near the pots.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 3:41PM
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dowbright(z6 in Missouri)

Hey, Slimy! Yes, the sunflowers float on top of the water for a long time unless they are disturbed by a squirrel falling in. Even then, enough still float that I've gotten a second one before I take the first one out.

I've been able to use them for up to a couple days, if I remove the bodies, but if you catch some, the water gets very stinky from them releasing their bowels and so on, and I have to dump it.

I bury them in a garden area that's open, and dump the sunflowers and water in my compost. Sometimes, though, the seeds can be hosed off and put back into a clean bucket of water and they still float. You'll have to experiment to see how it goes for you.

This post was edited by dowbright on Thu, Jun 12, 14 at 17:29

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 5:27PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

If the cuts are slanted, it was probably rabbits.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 5:38PM
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