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sure wish I knew what was eating my strawberries

planted them new this year and just when one starts to get ripe....... in the dark of night...... something eats it, all or part except for the hull. I have even found partly eaten ones across the yard in another garden, so don't think it's a bug. Tried the flour sprinkled on a board, critter avoided the board and got at them anyways!!! Think I'll have to cover them with something tonight. Is it possible it could be ants, I know they can drag heavy things a long distance?
 
Debbie, in Southern Ontario... where there are only 2 seasons.... snow and sow!
Ants would just take bites out, same as pill (potato) bugs, when there's not enough water elsewhere.

Sounds like cats or dogs or bunnies or mice. Row covers! Garlic! Nasty sprays! MUAH HAH HAH HAAA!!!
 
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Dear Mommamac:

It's got to be raccoons. At first I thought maybe squirrels or chipmunks, but if you're positive it only happens at night, then its raccoons. Is there any place where the ground is soft enough for you to check for pawprints? They are very fastidious animals who wouldn't want to soil their paws with flour.

It's also possible that skunks (who are nocturnal) are taking the strawberries, but they prefer insects and grubs, and there's no shortage of them around this time of year.

Well-secured netting might work. A raccoon might be able to undo it, though, because they're smart and have very nimble fingers. Any way you can put a fence around your garden?

Good luck - let us know how things turn out.
Therese Ciesinski
Associate Editor
Organic Gardening
 
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Whoo-hoo! The editors get their fingers dirty! How very cool.

Thank you, Ms. Ciesinski. Didn't even think of raccoons, they're not a problem where I live, though I did see an opossum the other day. It was a LONG way from anywhere it should have been....
 
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could it be Kids! You gotta watch tose kids eatin the berries!!!! if so you can catch them by puttion some video games out side. If the games are played it is a kid!!!
 
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Good one Georgia Boy!!!
 
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Don't know if voles are nocturnal,but I have a big problem with woodland voles. Always blamed the strawberry chewing on them.
 
"Maybe one of the secrets of survival is to learn where to dance." Stanley Kunitz
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I watched a momma mocking bird pick them off and feed them to her baby last year before I put down netting. Birds are sneaky too. Could have carried it and dropped it. But I'm betting squirrels, coz they are tricky and carry stuff off too.
 
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I had a woodchuck sitting in the middle of my patch today!! I didnt know they liked strawberries!! But they might as well join the crowd since the birds and chipmunks are having a festive good time out there too!Willow
 
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I found the culprit!!!! A mommy robin that I have adopted and agreed to share the odd worm with. As soon as I turn on the hose to water, she's right there. Wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen with my own eyes.... picked, pecked and gobbled.... then went back for more. I didn't realize that they would eat fruit, I thought only worms and bugs. It hasn't even been too dry here either. So far she's gotten most of them as soon as she see's a little hint of red...... it's gone! This was the first year for them so I hadn't planned on harvesting much anyways, next year I will cover them for sure.

Good thing we live in farm country, my son and I went picking the other day just up the road. They are excellent this year, big and juicy. Spent the day making jam, shortcake and freezing, yummy!

Thanks everyone for your ideas, this forum is great.
 
Debbie, in Southern Ontario... where there are only 2 seasons.... snow and sow!
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A turtle eats mine, but he never eats enough to matter.
 
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mommamac,
Glad you discovered your culprit, but it's also possible that she's only one of many. So far, I've been competing with squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks AND birds for my berries. Unfortunately for me, the critters usually win. Fortunately, I REALLY planted that particular patch more for ground cover, but a few berriew WOULD be nice. DEFINITELY going to have to cover them if I ever want to actually eat any.
 
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I've heard you can trick the birds by putting out red painted, strawberry sized rocks a few weeks before the strawberries ripen. Supposedly the birds check them out, find they're not edible, and decide not to bother with red, strawberry shaped things. This was in a Rodale book which has escaped from my bookshelf, so I can't remember the title. Anyway, its too late to try this year, but there's always next year.
 

Abigail, all 9 kids grown and 16 little gardeners: what a harvest!

Zone 7a, Far Rockaway, New York

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You can buy netting even at Tru Valu hardware. Cover the berries, pin down the sides of the net so the birds won't walk under it. Yes, robins can completely take a strawberry crop or denude a cherry tree or any other red juicy fruit. What you probably do not see is the rest of the bird clan that meets there at dawn and feasts. Haven't tried the painted rock trick, but did try inflated owls and sparkly things in the wind. They don't believe it. If your strawberries are everbearers, it is not too late to cover them. You may salvage some crop. Smiler
 
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a word about netting- so far at my garden, a bird and a baby rabbit have got caught in metting.
I happened to get there and found the bird and let it out. No one found the bunny, his tail got caught and he died . much as i wanted to celebrate one less bunny it's a cruel way to go.

ellen
 
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