What is Eating Dahlia leaves

What is Eating My Dahlia? (11 Culprits & Quick Fixes!)

Snails and Slugs are the main pests that eat Dahlia leaves. Caterpillars, Earwigs, Capsid Bugs, and Thrips also devour Dahlia leaves. Rodents like Rat, Mice, Voles, Gophers, and Chipmunks also munch on Dahlia bulbs.

Dahlias are grown in gardens for their colorful, pretty flowers. They come in a variety of colors. Dahlia is a perennial that’s native to Mexico and Central America.

Do you think some pest/animal is eating your Dahlias? Are they eating the leaves? Are they eating the flowers? Are the tubers being stolen?

At the end of this article, you’ll know what kind of pests can attack Dahlia and how to differentiate the damage done by various pests.

We shall also discuss my secrets of how to get rid of the pests without harming your precious Dahlia.

What’s eating the leaves of my Dahlia?

Snails and Slugs eat Dahlia leaves with passion. Caterpillars(Larval forms of Butterflies and Moths) eat Dahlia leaves too. Thrips also eat the leaves of Dahlia.

Do Snails eat Dahlias?

Yes, snails and slugs eat Dahlias. Snails and Slugs leave a slimy trail behind them as they munch on the Dahlia leaves.

If your leaves are missing and you see slime on your Dahlias, slugs and snails are probably the reason.

Snails and Slugs come out at night and feed on Dahlia leaves. This is why you need to hunt these pesky pests at night.

How do you get rid of Slugs on Dahlias?

Listed below are some means to get rid of slugs on Dahlias.

  • Get into the garden at night/early in the morning and you can find slugs feeding on the leaves. Pick these slugs with a hand and throw them into a bucket of soapy water.
  • You can trap slugs/snails by placing a bowl of Ale near the Dahlia plant. Place the bowl overnight and they’ll gather in that bowl. Throw all of them in a bucket of soapy water.
  • Place a copper ring around the susceptible Dahlias. Snails don’t usually climb over the copper ring.
  • Add a 2-inch layer of rough mulch around your Dahlia plants. Crushed eggshells, wood ashes, and nut hulls make a fine mulch to prevent slugs.
  • Keep the ground below the Dahlia plants clean. Clean up the leaf debris so the slugs don’t have any hiding place.

Will Dahlias recover from slug damage?

Yes, Dahlias can recover from slug damage if some leaves are left. You need to eliminate slugs before they eat up the entire plant.

If they’ve eaten most of the foliage, uproot the plant and plant it in a pot with fresh soil. Keep it safe from pests for a while and it should recover.

What is stripping my Dahlia leaves?

Caterpillars are stripping your Dahlia leaves. Caterpillars feed on Dahlia leaves in a specific fashion. They eat rows into the Dahlia leaves.

Caterpillars eat the leaves from the outer edge towards the middle. Thus, they create stripes in the leaves by eating them.

They curl the leaves as they feed on them. They hide under the curled leaves. If you see curled leaves on Dahlias, check them for caterpillars.

How to stop Caterpillars eating my Dahlias?

  • Go into the garden in the evening/early morning and get rid of them by hand. This is a cost-effective and natural way to eliminate Caterpillars. Do this in the early stage of infestation.
  • Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt) is a bacterium that hates Caterpillars. Introducing them onto the Dahlia is an efficient way to control Caterpillars.
  • Birds, Frogs, and Toads are the predators of Caterpillars. They help keep Caterpillar populations in control.

What are the Black Bugs on my Dahlias?

Thrips are tiny, slender, black-colored pests that infest Dahlia plants. Thrips feed on the plant sap of Dahlia as they damage the leaves.

They puncture holes into Dahlia’s leaves. Affected leaves become stippled and fall off. This eventually results in stunted growth.

Thrips move from one host plant to another quickly. This is the reason why spraying insecticides won’t be of much help.

How to control Thrips on Dahlias?

Below are a few ways to control Thrips on Dahlia plants.

  • Spray water forcefully on affected Dahlia leaves to dislodge Thrips. Do this thrice a day on alternate days.
  • Spray insecticidal soap on the affected plants to eliminate thrips. Reapply after a fortnight if these insects persist.

Are Earwigs eating my Dahlias?

Earwigs eat holes into Dahlia leaves. Do you see a number of uneven holes in Dahlia leaves? Do you also see small insects on Dahlias?

Earwigs are insects with two horns at the rear.

Do Earwigs live in Dahlias?

Yes, Earwigs hide in the Flowers and Leaves of Dahlia. They hide in the leaves/flowers to protect themselves from predators.

What damage do Earwigs do to Dahlias?

Earwigs puncture Dahlia leaves. Although an Earwig infestation isn’t fatal to Dahlia, it could stunt the plant. They also damage Dahlia flowers.

Grasshoppers on Dahlia

Grasshoppers can eat Dahlia leaves too. They are not the usual pests but they can infest Dahlia plants. They cause great damage to a variety of plants.

If there’s a small infestation one can control them using Nosema locustae. Nosema locustae is a naturally occurring bacteria that can kill Grasshoppers.

This bacteria is sprayed onto Grasshopper bait, which is then placed around the susceptible plants.

Capsid bugs on Dahlias

Capsid bugs love to puncture holes in Dahlias, they distort Dahlia leaves. Capsid bugs are bright green, beetle-like bugs.

They cause the flower buds to abort, so it’s quite fatal to the lifecycle of Dahlia plants. Capsid bugs feed on Dahlia plant sap.

They inject toxins into the plant while they feed on it. Capsid bugs ruin the beauty of Dahlias, so you might wanna respond as soon as you see ’em.

Tips to control Capsid bugs on Dahlia

  • Clear off any leaf debris you see around your Dahlias.
  • Treat the infested Dahlia plants with a Pyrethrin-based insecticide if the infestation is severe.

Note: Don’t use insecticides as Capsid bugs move on quickly and you’ll only be harming your plants/beneficial insects.

Do Japanese Beetles eat Dahlia?

Yes, Japanese Beetles eat Dahlias. Japanese Beetles are always hungry, they destroy Dahlias if left unattended.

Dahlias used to bloom in the fall in the olden days. Now Dahlias bloom all year long. This is why Japanese Beetles get the chance to feed on the flowers.

You can cut back your Dahlias in the season when they’re most active. They are active only for a month, so it should not be that hard.

How to get rid of Japanese beetles on Dahlias

  • Pick the adult beetles by hand as soon as you see them.
  • Spray Neem oil on the infested Dahlia plants to eliminate Japanese Beetles.
  • You can use row covers over your Dahlia plants to prevent an infestation. Let this cover stay for a month.

Do Ants eat Dahlias?

No, ants don’t eat Dahlias. If you see ants on your Dahlia plant, it is a good indication of the presence of pesky aphids.

Ants get attracted to the ‘Honeydew’, which’s excreted by the Aphids. This honeydew not only attracts ants but also attracts a variety of fungi.

How to get rid of Aphids on Dahlias?

  • Spray water forcefully on the infested branches of Dahlias to dislodge aphids.
  • Hang sticky, yellow cards around Dahlia plants to detect aphid presence early on.
  • Spray Neem oil on the infested Dahlia plants if the aphid populations are too high.

Here’s a nice article on why Dahlia leaves turn yellow.

Best Insecticide for Dahlias

The best insecticides for Dahlias are Neem oil and Eucalyptus oil. Insecticidal soap spray is also a great way to eliminate insect pests. I always recommend you use organic insecticides.

Below are some insecticides that can be used to get rid of certain pests.

  • The insecticidal spray works efficiently to get rid of bugs in Dahlia.
  • Bacillus thurnigiensis(Bt) is a bacterial solution to getting rid of Caterpillars on your Dahlias.
  • ‘Orthenex’ is a great way to control a variety of insect pests that feed on Dahlias.

Can you use Sevin Dust on Dahlias?

Yes, Sevin dust can be used to get rid of several insect pests on Dahlias. Use it for the insects that are labeled on the product.

Homemade Insecticide for Dahlias

Below are the instructions to make a gallon of organic insecticide. This insecticide is made using soap solution and doesn’t harm the plants/beneficial insects in any way.


1 Gallon of water

1 table liquid soap

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix water and liquid soap in a container/spray bottle. Add vegetable oil to this solution whenever you want to spray the infested plant.

Vegetable oil makes the solution sticky, so the insecticide becomes more efficient. Drench the infested plants in this solution.

Spray this after two weeks of the first treatment. You’ll most likely eliminate all of the insects after the second treatment.

Note: Spray this solution only on a cool day. If the temperatures are above 90F, the soap will hurt your Dahlia plant.

What animal eats Dahlias?

Rodents like Rats, Mice, Squirrels, Voles, Chipmunks, and Gophers eat Dahlias. Groundhogs eat Dahlias too. Deers love to munch on Dahlia too.

Do Squirrels eat Dahlias?

Yes, Squirrels eat Dahlias. Squirrels are probably the most common animals that devour Dahlia plants. Squirrels dig up the Dahlia bulbs and eat them.

Squirrels aren’t that picky, they eat any bulb they can get their hands on.

Do Rats eat Dahlias?

Yes, Rats eat Dahlia flowers. Rats love to eat Dahlia flowers, I’ve seen them eat my Dahlias. It was a painful sight indeed!

Do Rabbits and Deer eat Dahlias?

Yes, Deer can eat Dahlias. Deers eat Dahlias only if the conditions are right, i.e., suitable for them. They are like candies for Deers.

Fencing the susceptible plants is a good way to keep Deer away. Rabbits don’t eat Dahlias usually, they harm the Rabbits.

Do Moose eat Dahlias?

Yes, Moose can eat Dahlias. They’ll munch on your Dahlias in certain situations only. They’ll eat Dahlia if they don’t find a tastier alternative.

Do Gophers eat Dahlia tubers?

Yes, Gophers do eat Dahlia tubers. Gophers munch on any tubers that they can get ahold of. You can avoid them by planting your Dahlias in a wire basket.

Do Birds eat Dahlia leaves?

No, birds do not eat Dahlia leaves as far as I know. Birds keep pest populations at bay. They’re very good at controlling caterpillars.

Do Mice eat Dahlia bulbs?

Yes, mice love to feast on Dahlia bulbs. They eat Dahlia bulbs underground. Mice are the most common animals that feed on Dahlia bulbs.

You can prevent a mice infestation by planting your Dahlias in a basket with holes or wire basket.

Do Voles eat Dahlia bulbs?

Voles do eat Dahlia bulbs. They, like other rodents, love to munch on bulbs of a variety of plants.

Do Moles eat Dahlia bulbs?

Moles don’t eat Dahlia bulbs. They don’t like to eat any tubers or bulbs. So, they are quite different from the other rodents.

Do Chipmunks eat Dahlia bulbs?

Chipmunks eat Dahlia bulbs. I caught them on camera a few weeks ago. They love to devour Dahlia bulbs and other plants’ bulbs.

Do Groundhogs eat Dahlias?

Groundhogs love to eat Dahlia leaves. I’ve watched them devour the leaves a month or two ago. That’s when I found out that we had Groundhogs nearby.



Happy Growing 🙂