What is Eating My Rhubarb Leaves: Unmasking the Culprits.

The likely culprit eating your rhubarb leaves is the common garden snail or slug. Rhubarb leaves are a favorite food for these pests, and they often leave behind noticeable holes and chewed edges.

To protect your rhubarb plants, it’s important to take action against snails and slugs which can be achieved through a variety of natural methods such as handpicking, using barriers like copper tapes, or applying organic slug repellents. Regular monitoring and early intervention are crucial to keep your rhubarb plants healthy and thriving.

Common Pests Attacking Rhubarb

When it comes to rhubarb plants, common pests can wreak havoc on their leaves. Identifying these culprits is essential in order to effectively combat their presence. One of the most common pests attacking rhubarb is the rhubarb curculio. This small black beetle can cause significant damage to the leaves, resulting in a decrease in plant health and productivity.

Another culprit that infests rhubarb plants is the rhubarb leaf miner. These pests lay their eggs on the leaves, and the resulting larvae tunnel through the foliage, leaving telltale trails behind. Recognizing these signs of infestation is crucial to take action promptly.

Pests such as aphids and slugs may also be responsible for damaging rhubarb leaves. Aphids feed on the sap of the plants and can cause distortion and yellowing of the leaves. Slugs, on the other hand, leave behind characteristic holes and slime trails as they feast on the foliage.

Understanding the damage caused by pests is essential for effective pest management. The feeding activities of these pests can weaken the overall health of the plant, impacting its growth and productivity. Regular monitoring and proper pest control measures are the key to keeping these pests at bay and ensuring healthy, thriving rhubarb plants.

Slugs: Silent Rhubarb Leaf Eaters


Slugs are common garden pests known for their voracious appetite for rhubarb leaves. Slug damage usually appears as irregular holes or chewed edges on the leaves. They leave behind a shiny slime trail, which can be a telltale sign of their presence. Keep an eye out for small, slimy trails around your rhubarb plants.

There are several ways to control slugs and protect your rhubarb leaves. One method is handpicking the slugs off the plants during the early morning or evening hours when they are most active. Applying a barrier such as crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants can also deter slugs. Beer traps, shallow dishes filled with beer, can attract and drown slugs. Another option is to use slug pellets, but keep in mind that these may not be suitable for organic gardens.

For those seeking organic solutions, there are natural remedies that can help reduce slug populations. Copper tape placed around the plant pots or raised bed can create a barrier that slugs are reluctant to cross. Creating a habitat for slug predators such as hedgehogs, lizards, or birds in your garden can also naturally control the slug population. Additionally, spreading coffee grounds, crushed garlic, or salt around the base of the plants may deter slugs due to their aversion to these substances.


Aphids: Tiny Sap-suckers Damaging Rhubarb

What is Eating My Rhubarb Leaves

Aphids are minuscule insects that can cause significant damage to rhubarb leaves. These sap-sucking pests can quickly multiply and infest your plants, leading to stunted growth and distorted leaves. It is essential to be able to identify the signs of aphids’ presence on your rhubarb leaves for effective control.

  • Clusters of small, soft-bodied insects on the undersides of leaves
  • Curled, yellowing, or distorted leaves
  • Sticky honeydew residue on leaves and nearby surfaces

If you’re looking for eco-friendly ways to tackle aphids on your rhubarb, there are several organic options available. One effective method is to regularly inspect your plants and manually remove aphids by hand. Alternatively, spraying a strong stream of water on the leaves can dislodge and eliminate the pests. Another option is to make a homemade insecticidal soap by diluting mild soap in water and spraying it on the affected plants.

Another natural way to control aphids is by attracting beneficial insects that naturally prey on them, such as ladybugs, lacewings, or parasitic wasps. Planting companion plants, like dill, fennel, or yarrow, can help encourage these predator insects to make your garden their home.

Caterpillars: Leaf-munching Larvae

One common pest that can cause damage to rhubarb leaves is caterpillars, which are the larvae of various butterfly and moth species. Identifying caterpillar damage on rhubarb is important in order to take appropriate measures for control. Caterpillars have a voracious appetite and can quickly devour the leaves, leaving behind skeletonized foliage.

There are several organic ways to manage caterpillar infestations on rhubarb. One effective method is handpicking caterpillars off the plants and disposing of them. Another option is to use biological controls such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring bacteria that specifically targets caterpillars.

Popular Caterpillar Species Affecting Rhubarb
1. Cabbage White Butterfly Caterpillars
2. Cutworms
3. Armyworms
4. Tent Caterpillars

Snails: Stealthy Rhubarb Leaf Predators

Rhubarb leaves can fall victim to the stealthy snails lurking in your garden. Identifying snail damage is important in order to take appropriate action. Look for irregular holes in the leaves, slime trails, and shiny mucus left behind. If you notice these signs, it’s likely snails are the culprits.

Creating a snail-unfriendly environment can help protect your rhubarb plants. Start by removing hiding places, such as debris and weeds. Regularly clear the area around your plants and keep it clean. Another effective measure is to use physical barriers like copper tape or diatomaceous earth, as these can deter snails from reaching your rhubarb.

Simple ways to remove snails from rhubarb plants

Method Description
Cultural control Handpick snails and place in a container with soapy water. Dispose of them away from your garden.
Natural predators Encourage predator species such as ducks, frogs, and birds to help control the snail population.
Beer trap Bury a container in the ground, fill it with beer, and snails will be drawn to it. Empty the traps regularly.

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Deer: Large Herbivores Targeting Rhubarb

Deer are large herbivorous animals that are known to target rhubarb plants. If you notice your rhubarb leaves being eaten, it could indicate deer feeding. Some indications of deer feeding on rhubarb leaves include partially eaten leaves with ragged edges, plants that are repeatedly browsed, and tracks or droppings in the garden. To protect your rhubarb from deer, you can create deer deterrents such as installing a tall fence around your garden or using deer repellents. Additionally, there are strategies you can employ to keep deer away from your garden in general. These include planting deer-resistant plants, using motion-activated sprinklers, or using noise deterrents like wind chimes. By taking proactive measures, you can help safeguard your rhubarb plants and preserve their foliage.


Frequently Asked Questions For What Is Eating My Rhubarb Leaves

What Are The Common Pests That Eat Rhubarb Leaves?

Common pests that eat rhubarb leaves include slugs, snails, aphids, and Japanese beetles.

How Can I Identify If My Rhubarb Leaves Are Being Eaten?

If you notice irregular holes or chew marks on your rhubarb leaves, it’s a sign that they are being eaten.

What Damage Can Pests Cause To Rhubarb Plants?

Pests can cause damage by feeding on the leaves, weakening the plants, and reducing the overall yield of rhubarb.

How Can I Prevent Pests From Eating My Rhubarb Leaves?

To prevent pests from eating rhubarb leaves, you can use organic pest control methods like handpicking pests, applying barriers, or using natural repellents.

Are There Any Natural Predators That Can Help Control Pests On Rhubarb Plants?

Yes, attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps can help control the population of pests on rhubarb plants.


Identifying the culprit behind your rhubarb leaf damage is crucial for effective management. By closely examining the leaves and considering common pests like slugs, snails, and beetles, you can take appropriate measures to protect your rhubarb plants. Implementing organic pest control methods like handpicking, companion planting, and applying organic deterrents will help safeguard the health and productivity of your beloved rhubarb patch.

Remember to stay vigilant and take action promptly to prevent further damage. Happy rhubarb growing!

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