Broccoli is a great crop that you can grow from summer to autumn. It’s a great crop that grows quickly in the right conditions.
Broccoli grows on a stalk with a single flower (the broccoli crown) in the center. It is surrounded by dark, thick leaves.
When you grow broccoli in your garden, it can fall prey to pests or animals that can destroy your broccoli plants.
One of the common areas where you’ll see damage to your broccoli plants is on the leaves first.
What is Eating My Broccoli Leaves?
Broccoli leaves are attractive to many different pests and animals. The most common culprits that you will find eating your broccoli leaves are broccoli worms — which include the cabbage worm, diamondback worm, and the cabbage looper — flea beetles, rabbits, gophers, and deer.
2 Insects Eating Your Broccolli Plants
1. Broccoli Worms
Broccoli worms are a species of worm that includes the cabbage worm, the diamondback worm, and the cabbage looper. These worms are the most common of the pests that you will find eating your broccoli leaves.
The cabbage worm is the larvae of white butterflies, the diamondback worm is the larvae of the grey moth, and the cabbage looper is the larvae of brown moths.
If you have broccoli worms, you will notice that there are many irregular-sized and placed holes in your broccoli leaves.
As broccoli worms typically start from the top, you will often see excrement on the lower leaves.
If you have broccoli worms, as they devour the leaves of your broccoli plant, they can stunt the growth of the rest of the broccoli plant. Depending on the level of infestation of broccoli worms, your broccoli plants may die.
2. Flea Beetles
Flea beetles are small, black beetles that target many garden vegetables. They can also come in varieties that have stripes, but one of the most common types of flea beetles that you will see is solid black.
They have long legs that allow them to jump high, making moving from leaf to leaf on your broccoli plants easy.
When it comes to broccoli plants, flea beetles go for the leaves. You will know if you have flea beetles if you have small irregular holes in your broccoli leaves.
These holes are spread out across your leaves and will often have jagged edges, due to the way that the beetles eat.
Flea beetles will weaken your leaves to where you will begin to notice dead leaves or stunted growth in your broccoli plant. Flea beetles will also go after the stems of your broccoli plants as they mature.
How to Stop Pests From Eating Your Broccoli Leaves
Repelling Broccoli Worms
There are a few ways that you can remove broccoli worms from your broccoli leaves. There are a couple of natural repellents that you can use to repel broccoli worms.
One natural repellent is a mixture of garlic and cloves. You want to soak both in water for a couple of days before blending them into a pulp.
Both garlic and cloves work as well as natural repellents for broccoli worms. It is also a safe repellent to use in your garden.
Unlike chemical repellents, you don’t have to worry about contaminating your plants.
You can also regularly maintain your broccoli plants. Broccoli worms don’t move in suddenly, they infest your broccoli plants over time.
If you check your plants daily and clean your broccoli leaves off, you can prevent broccoli worms from eating your plants.
Repelling Flea Beetles
When it comes to repelling flea beetles, you can use a natural method.
Mix isopropyl alcohol, water, and dish soap (just a drop) into a spray bottle. This mixture will repel flea beetles from your broccoli leaves, but make sure that you use more water than isopropyl alcohol.
Otherwise, you risk killing your plant.
You can also manage flea beetles through how you plant your broccoli. The later you plant in the season, the less likely you are to get flea beetles.
Work on keeping the area around your broccoli plants free from weeds and dead foliage. Flea beetles thrive in those environments.
3 Animals Eating Your Broccoli Leaves
Rabbits are one of the animals that you may find eating the broccoli leaves in your garden. The broccoli plant’s leaves are the most attractive part for rabbits.
When rabbits have been eating your broccoli leaves, you’ll notice a very telling pattern.
Rabbits will nibble your broccoli leaves from the outside. Leaving small, jagged marks around the edges of your broccoli leaves.
Rather than a regular resource in their diet, broccoli leaves are more of a treat to rabbits. When it comes to your garden, rabbits won’t completely destroy your plants in a few days, but over time they can stunt the growth of your broccoli plants and eventually kill them.
Gophers can be a gardener’s least favorite visitor. Gophers will eat pretty much any vegetation that is available to them.
While gophers will eat the leaves of your broccoli plants, you may not notice that they are there at first.
When gophers eat plants, they start at the roots. From there they will move up and devour the leaves of the plant.
If you have gophers, your broccoli crop is unlikely to survive because they destroy the roots first.
You can notice gophers in small holes around your garden. They burrow underground, typically close to the areas where they are harvesting food.
If you live in an area with deer, then you know that they will eat pretty much anything that you attempt to grow in your garden.
Broccoli leaves are no exception. Deer will typically only eat the leaves, discarding the broccoli flower.
How to Stop Animals From Eating Your Broccoli Leaves
When it comes to deterring deer and rabbits from eating your broccoli plants, fencing is your friend.
Having raised beds with fencing that is high enough that deer or rabbits cannot get over can help prevent either from getting into your garden.
With rabbits, it is a good idea to have a raised bed so that they are unable to burrow underneath.
When it comes to gophers, the higher you have your broccoli plants the better. Raised beds that are off the ground can help prevent gophers from reaching your broccoli plants.
Gophers burrow beneath. If you have your plants in a raised planter that is not touching the ground soil, you can deter gophers.
Frequently Asked Questions About What is Eating My Broccoli Leaves
Can I save my broccoli plants after pests or animals have started eating the leaves?
If you notice that something is eating your broccoli leaves, the best thing to do is to address the problem as soon as possible. Most animals and pests eventually weaken your broccoli plants if you leave them unattended.
Can you consider broccoli that pests or animals have targetted as safe to eat?
If your broccoli leaves have been eaten by pests or animals, you can still eat them. Just be sure to properly clean your broccoli when you harvest it. Keep an eye out for any pests. You can also rinse your broccoli in vinegar to sanitize it.
Conclusion on What is Eating my Broccoli Leaves
When growing broccoli, your broccoli leaves may fall prey to pests and animals.
There are ways that you can repel and protect your broccoli plants from being destroyed.
The most common deterrents to your broccoli leaves are broccoli worms, flea beetles, rabbits, gophers, and deer.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.