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Part I: What's Eating My Plants?

On a scale from 1 to 10 – with 10 being “I’m-setting-this-garden-on-fire!” angry – how mad does it make you when you wake up one morning and find that something has eaten all your hard gardening work?</br></br>It can be pretty devastating, especially when the damage is extensive. And, of course it’s even worse if you just got the hang of gardening and this is your first war against garden-raiding vermin.</br></br>The first step to winning such a war is knowing your enemy, and so we’ve grouped them here under the telltale signs they leave after they’ve feasted on your dreams.</br></br><strong>Rippers</strong></br></br>These culprits are the easiest to identify because they take whole chunks out of your plants, or maybe even snatch the entire plant. Deer, opossums and even birds are often to blame for this kind of destruction.</br></br>Deer damage will be higher up on the plant, but opossums and birds can strike anywhere. Just look for big, jagged holes in your once-beautiful foliage.</br></br><strong>Chewers</strong></br></br>There are all kinds of chewers, and many leave distinct markings that give them away. This is a good thing, because it will allow you to modify your tactics for a more accurate counterstrike.</br></br>Rabbits: These adorable little destroyers leave clean cuts near the base of your plants, or nip them off entirely with no ripping if they’re new and green.</br></br>“Leaf Cutters”: These include grasshoppers, caterpillars, sawflies, weevils, beetles, snails, slugs and several other pests that trim leaves in noticeably meticulous patterns.</br></br><strong>Suckers</strong></br></br>These are the pests that literally suck the life force out of your plants. They include mites, aphids and other tiny terrors that are better identified by their damage than their appearance, because they’re often too small to see.</br></br>If your plants are turning brown, losing leaves, have spots or webbing, or otherwise look ravaged with no sign of chewing or ripping, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with a miniature muncher.</br></br>Keep a lookout for these signs of plant distress, and tune in tomorrow for tips on how to combat garden rippers, chewers and suckers.
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