It’s no secret that wildflowers are good for wildlife, especially pollinators like bees and butterflies. However, some animals that eat wildflowers aren’t always welcome in your garden. In this article, we’ll explain which types of animals eat wildflowers.
What Types of Animals Eat Wildflowers?
Wildflowers provide two types of food vital to pollinators like bees and butterflies; nectar and pollen. In our dietary terms, nectar provides carbohydrates and sugars, while pollen provides protein. When wildflowers are in bloom, they often teem with pollinators collecting nectar and pollen from the flowers.
Other animals consume the leaves and flowers of some wildflowers. The most common of these are herbivores such as deer, elk, moose, and rabbits. Grazing animals such as cattle and sheep may also eat wildflowers. These animals typically graze on wildflowers that grow in grassland, prairie, or woodland habitats.
Even in desert habitats, some animals consume wildflowers. These include mammals such as jackrabbits and reptiles such as lizards and tortoises or turtles.
Birds in various habitats also eat wildflowers by consuming the seeds, especially once the plants have finished flowering. Birds also eat the insects that flock to wildflowers to collect pollen and nectar.
Insects that many gardeners label as pests also eat wildflowers. These include aphids, beetles, scale insects, spider mites, and whiteflies. Some of these pests extract sap from wildflowers, while others consume the leaves directly.
How to Protect Your Wildflowers from Deer and Rabbits
If deer and rabbits live close to your property, they may consume wildflowers in your garden. You can protect your wildflowers by deterring these animals from entering. You can also grow deer or rabbit-resistant wildflower species.
Protect your planted wildflowers from deer and rabbits by erecting sturdy fences or other barriers around your property. Repair any gaps as soon as possible to stop rabbits from sneaking through. Ensure your fences are high enough to prevent deer from leaning over and eating your plants.
Some wildflower species are resistant to deer or rabbits. This is usually because these wildflowers contain calcium oxalates which cause throat or stomach irritation when ingested by deer or rabbits. Some wildflowers produce scents that put off deer or rabbits. Rabbit and deer-resistant wildflower species include:
How to Protect Your Wildflowers from Pests
Wildflowers such as coneflowers are vulnerable to pests like aphids or whiteflies. You can protect your wildflowers against pests using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap. These methods dehydrate and kill these annoying pests, helping you control infestations.
However, try and avoid using insecticides or pesticides on your wildflowers, especially synthetic ones. Pesticides will kill pests but will also kill beneficial pollinators such as bees and butterflies. Avoid pesticides at all costs if you’re trying to encourage pollinators to visit your wildflowers.
Animals that eat wildflowers include deer, rabbits, lizards, and tortoises or turtles. Discourage deer or rabbits using fences or by growing wildflowers that can resist them.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.