The best thing about growing pumpkins is the wonderfully vibrant funnel-shaped blossoms they produce. Oh, and that’s not including the benefits of their fruits either – whether it’s for Halloween, a soup, or a curry! So it will come as no surprise that these flowers are the target of many insects and animals. But what ones, exactly? Well, let’s find out!
So, what eats pumpkin flowers? Deer, Rabbits, Rodents, Pickleworms, Whiteflies, and Aphids are all known to eat pumpkin flowers and are the most common predators. Though mites, beetles, and squash bugs have been known to eat them too.
Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones who enjoy eating pumpkin flowers.
So below, we explore these voracious eaters in further detail, as well as actions that you can take to stop them.
What Is Eating My Pumpkin Flowers?
For deer, the sweeter the food, the better!
Hence, they love pumpkins for both their fruits and their flowers.
In fact, the pumpkin’s flowers are so soft and sweet that it is generally believed that deer prefer them to the fruit, which isn’t quite as sweet and requires considerably more effort to eat.
Regardless, if a deer stumbles upon a patch of pumpkin, it’s safe to say that only the vines are safe.
As with deer, rabbits simply adore pumpkin plants due to their sweet flavor. Flowers included!
Both wild and domestic rabbits alike pose a considerable risk to pumpkin flowers.
Whilst the food isn’t a typical component of a rabbit’s diet, that’s only because they don’t come across them every day.
Hence when they do, it’s a most welcomed treat!
Rodents, like mice and rats, are, unfortunately, big fans of pumpkin flowers.
Really, they’re big fans of most foods that they can get their little paws on.
They’ll blissfully devour the plant’s flowers, leaves, and fruit, and they’ll do so like there’s no tomorrow.
The larvae of the pickleworm moth, pickleworms, are known to enjoy the flowers of a pumpkin, as well as its fruit, leaves, and even stem.
The flowers and leaves are prone to invasion first, followed by the remaining aspects of the plants.
It goes without saying that such pumpkins are no longer fit for human consumption.
Yet another pest that simply can’t keep away is the infamous whitefly.
Whiteflies love yellow and orange color tones, and pumpkins inevitably meet the brief!
They’ll feast on all aspects of the pumpkin plant, sucking its sap and depleting its energy.
Aphids behave in the same way as whiteflies.
They suck the plant’s sap, which is essentially the plant’s predominant lifeline.
In turn, the plant begins to die, a fact that can be ascertained by the state of its flowers and leaves, which will begin to discolor and wilt.
Eventually, the plant will dry up.
However, this is only likely to occur if the aphids are present in abundance.
But whilst small volumes of aphids don’t pose much of a risk, if you do spot one or two, you’ll want to move quickly to eliminate them due to the sheer speed at which they reproduce.
How Do I Stop My Pumpkin Flowers From Being Eaten?
We only get to enjoy pumpkins once a year.
So when we get them, it’s only natural that we want to make the most of them.
That means not having to write them off because a garden pest happened to get to them first.
Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions that you can adopt to both deter and eliminate said pests.
For ease, we’ve outlined the most effective ones below.
If you have a case of aphids on your hand, it’s time to get reacquainted with your hose pipe!
The best way to tackle aphids is to simply push them off the pumpkin via a water stream.
Be sure to hose down every part of the pumpkin plants, and don’t worry – established pumpkins are resilient enough to endure the powerful stream.
They’ll remain intact and pest free!
Pickleworms, along with any other bugs that can be seen with the naked eye, are easy enough to remove from the pumpkin plant by hand.
So put on your gardening gloves, pick them off, and for complete peace of mind that they won’t return, drop them into a bucket of soapy water.
Nonetheless, do note that pickleworms and many other bugs are nocturnal, so this approach is only effective if you get to work at night.
If you find that your pumpkins are being eaten by larger animals, such as deer, rabbits, and rats, you may want to install a fence around their perimeter.
An obvious border is likely to deter unwanted animals from crossing over to your pumpkins.
It’s worth ensuring that the fence has an underground presence.
This will prevent burrowing animals, such as moles and voles, from getting to the plants too.
Pumpkins are sweet smelling, which is one of the main attractants for animals and insects alike.
Thankfully, you can effectively combat this through the strategic placement of scent deterrents.
For instance, rabbits and deer despise the taste and smell of cayenne pepper and peppermint, whilst pickleworms dislike all citrus scents.
Thus, spraying or placing these scents on and around the pumpkins is a great way to repel them!
Plus, this approach is non-toxic and natural, so you can rest assured that it won’t pose a risk to any pets or children that you may have running around.
Neem oil is another natural solution.
The idea is to apply the neem oil to the parts of the pumpkin that are at risk of being eaten by insects.
When the insects make their way to the pumpkin, they’ll find themselves regrettably covered in neem oil, which will eventually suffocate them.
If the natural solutions aren’t quite working for you, you may want to enlist a store-bought insecticide to do the job.
Simply follow the provided instructions, and the insects will be gone in no time.
However, do bear in mind that such solutions tend to be quite chemical and, thus, toxic.
For this reason, you’ll want to use them sparingly and with care in an effort to prevent harming your plants, soil, pets, and even children.
This is especially true if you intend on eating your pumpkins!
How Do I Get My Pumpkins To Flower Again?
Pumpkins are annual plants, meaning that they won’t regrow year after year.
Rather, their lifecycle fits neatly into a single growing season.
Hence, getting your pumpkins to flower the following season simply isn’t possible.
Rather, you’ll want to do your best to make sure that they flower the first and only time healthily that they get the opportunity to do so.
The first step is to ensure that when they are in bloom, they’re pest free.
Hence, I recommend adopting the above-mentioned methods in a preventative manner.
For instance, you could apply neem oil to your pumpkin as soon as its leaves and flowers emerge rather than waiting for the first sighting of a pickleworm.
Similarly, you could install a fence around the pumpkins before you notice that animals have been nibbling them to prevent such an occurrence, full stop.
If you do what you can to prevent these unwanted scenarios, your pumpkins will be likely to grow in a normal healthy way.
You will also be able to yield good results by using fertilizer, albeit in moderation.
Doing so will ensure that your pumpkin plants receive the nutrients that they need to grow as well as they can.
They’ll want for nothing, a fact exhibited by their bright blooms!
Optimize Other Environmental Conditions
Finally, double-check that your pumpkins have been planted in the environmental conditions that they need to naturally thrive.
Pumpkins require well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight.
They don’t fare well in cold environments and will need sufficient space for their vines to sprawl along.
Like this? You may want to check out my other guides while you are here: