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What Is Eating My Rhubarb Leaves? — Culprits Revealed!

What Is Eating My Rhubarb Leaves?  — Culprits Revealed!

The rhubarb plant is a fascinating plant to grow in your garden. Unlike most vegetables, the leaves of this plant aren’t suited for humans to consume. 

This is because Rhubarb leaves are rich in oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can be poisonous and cause kidney problems for humans if regularly consumed. 

This plant however has other amazing properties that make it a great addition to add to your garden! 

Rhubarb leaves are used for their oxalic acid.

This compound is used in bleaches, it is used to remove tarnish, and most importantly, it can be used in pesticides to eradicate many insects and pests for your other plants. 


What is eating my rhubarb leaves?

Slugs, snails, leaf beetles, beetles, and deer are the culprits you should look out for. These pests are the most commonly known for eating rhubarb leaves. Look at the damage done to your rhubarb plant to identify what pest you are dealing with.


Snails and Slugs

Slugs and snails are every gardener’s nightmare to have. When it comes to holes in your rhubarb leaves, the most likely reason is due to slugs and snails. 

Slugs and snails can cause great damage to your rhubarb plant as they feed on the leaves and cause massive gaping holes. 

If too much of the plant has been eaten away by pesty slugs and snails, then your rhubarb plant will start to wilt and ultimately die

If you find any lingering slugs or snails on your rhubarb plant or around the soil, I would advise you to remove them immediately by handpicking them off your plant and placing them elsewhere. 

A great way to eradicate these pests is to set a trap of beer. Beer traps are very effective in eliminating slugs and snails. 

Place beer in a shallow container near your rhubarb plant. the scent of the beer will lure the pests into the container and the beer solution will dispose of them. 

Copper tape, eggshells, and pencil-sharpening are great ways to naturally repel slugs and snails. 

Place these materials at the base of your plant in the soil. They will prevent slugs and snails from physically crawling on your rhubarb plant. 

If you notice any slimy, transparent ovules on the soil, this could be an indication that slugs have started to lay their eggs around your plant. Remove these eggs immediately. 

These eggs generally hatch within two weeks of being laid and thereafter they will feed on your rhubarb to gain nutrition. This will ultimately be chaotic for your garden and especially your rhubarb plant. 

Pour a mixture of water and soap on these eggs. Alternatively, a water and baking soda solution can also produce the same effect. 

Snail and slug eggs are very fragile so a more simple technique would be to take a gardening folk and churn the top lair of your rhubarb plants soil. 


Leaf beetles

The leaf beetle, otherwise more formally known as the Rhubarb Curculio, is about half an inch long and has a dark brown or black body that has light yellow dust over it. 

These beetles’ eggs are yellow or white.

Rhubarb Curculio pests can cause great damage to your pant as they start laying their eggs from spring to summer. 

When these pests lay their eggs they damage the stalk of your rhubarb plant as the beetle creates notches in the middle and on the side of the stem. 

You can usually find these pests hiding under debris or other organic material on the top layer of soil of your rhubarb plant. Another way to identify these pests is to assess the damage done to the stalk of your plant.

These insects lay their eggs on the stem, the notch created will ooze a sap out that will create a gum-like substance on your plant. 

This is a good indication that these pests have been nesting in your plant!

The best way rid of these pests is to pick them by hand off your rhubarb plant. You should do this in springtime before the beetles start to lay their eggs. 



The looper worm is one of the most infamous caterpillars when it comes to feasting on vegetation. 

The looper worm has a long, small body that has a green, sluggish appearance. 

If you start to notice large holes in your rhubarbs leaves or on the stem of your plant, then I would advise you to find these pests and get rid of them! 

These types of caterpillars usually hide on the inner side of the leaf and can be spotted with the naked eye. 

The best way to remove these caterpillars is to either physically take them off your plant or use a caterpillar control spray. 

You can go to your local gardening center and purchase a spray that contains Bacillus thuringiensis. 

I would recommend spraying your plant with this solution once to twice a week, depending on how bad the infestation is. 



If you live in an area where deer are present, you might want to keep your eye out for your rhubarb plants. 

Deers enjoy feasting on leafy vegetation and are known for ravishing the whole rhubarb plant. 

The damage done to your plant by the deer is usually very noticeable.

The best way to prevent deer from eating your plant is to put a physical barrier around your plants so the deer can’t get near them. 

An effective material to use for this would be bird wire. If you do not have bird wire you can get creative and make a stable cage around your plants to protect them.