Not many things can be more satisfying than successfully growing your own food, whether pumpkins, tomatoes or anything else yummy and fresh. At the same time, not many things can be more frustrating and discouraging than a hungry woodchuck (Marmota monax) doing away with all of your hard work in just a few quick bites. Woodchucks are also referred to both as groundhogs and whistle-pigs.
1. Woodchucks and Pumpkin Vines
Woodchucks indeed eat pumpkin vines, and how. These diurnal and mostly herbivorous marmots specifically enjoy the tips of pumpkin vines, right where all of the juicy and tender new stuff appears. By dining on these parts of pumpkin vines, woodchucks effectively cut off the development of the vine and therefore any future pumpkins in the garden. Not only do woodchucks eat these vines, they savor them and can swiftly devour any and all that they see.
2. Male and Female Flowers
Pumpkin vines are adorned with a combination of both female and male flowers, which are relatively easy to tell apart. The females, for one, typically are situated just a little smidge away from the actual vines. The males, on the hand, tend to stay a few inches off. Another key difference is that the females have tiny pumpkin fruit on their foundations. The males, however, don't. Woodchucks appear to favor the female flowers of vines.
3. Woodchucks and Other Crops
Although woodchucks undoubtedly adore sinking their teeth into into squash, they frequently enjoy a variety of other cultivated crops, including peas, beans, soybeans, alfalfa and tomatoes. The rodents don't limit their pumpkin destruction to the vines, they often eat the actual squash themselves, leaving conspicuous bite marks. Outside of crops, these squat creatures also frequently feed on nuts, berries, grass, foliage, tree bark, eggs from birds and insects.
4. Other Pumpkin-Growing Challenges
Don't assume that your pumpkin dilemma is necessarily the work of woodchucks. As far as pests that specifically go after the vines, look to insects such as squash bugs, cucumber beetles and squash vine borers. When it comes to actual consumption of the squash, many other members of the rodent family, as well as raccoon and deer can be counted as suspects. Deer are especially fond of youthful pumpkins.
- The Perfect Pumpkin; Gale Damerow
- Backyard Giants; Susan Warren
- Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management: Plants Woodchucks Eat
- URI Master Gardeners: Woodchucks
- Journal and Proceedings of the Hamilton Association; Hamilton Association
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Marmota monax
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Marmota monax
- University of Illinois Extension: Pumpkins and More
- University of Kentucky Agriculture Communications Services: Managing Woodchuck Problems in Kentucky
- Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: Woodchucks
- Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images