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Do Animals Eat Onion Plants

Planting onions is a very fun way to get into gardening. Then they are relatively easy to plant and are a great way to hold space in your garden during winter or cold months. While you may hear that onions are toxic to certain animals (like dogs), that doesn’t stop them and many other critters from getting into your garden and eating the tomatoes.

It is common for animals to go after onion plants. Not only will animals go after onions, but pests such as worms, flies, and even snails will also enjoy the tasty onion snack. Some animals stick around while the onions are still very small, others only eat the green tops, and some will dig up the whole full onion.

In today’s article, we will be talking about all the animals that love eating onion plants, which tend to stray away, and how to protect your garden from unwelcome visitors. Stick around. 

Animals That Like To Eat Onion Plants

Many animals enjoy the tasty onions, even though they are toxic to some animals. Let’s look at the animals that will eat onions from your garden.

Chickens: Chickens naturally peck around, searching for whatever they can eat. They often find their way into a garden without knowing it and peck apart plants, including onions. Though this is bad for you and your garden, onions are good for chickens.

Squirrels: Squirrels are scavengers and will take anything they can get their hands on. 

Deer: While deer prefer the leafy greens or plant tops, they rarely eat onions or onion tops; however, they will if they are hungry and there is nothing else. 

Rats: Rats are known for being eaters of really anything and everything. They are highly attracted to the smell of onions and will gorge on the whole plant. 

Raccoons: Racoons are like the fluffier, larger version of rats, and the same applies to them. 

Rabbits: Rabbits are like deer in that they prefer leafy greens or the leafy tops of plants. They don’t go for the bitter onion tops or the onions themselves; however, if they are hungry, they will eat anything. 

Birds: The actual onion part of the onion is toxic to almost all birds. However, this doesn’t stop them from eating the tops of the onions. Birds such as blackbirds, crows, starlings, and sparrows will eat out of your garden, including the onion tops. 

Skunks: A hungry skunk commonly walks upon a garden to nibble on whatever is available, occasionally munching down on onion tops. 

What Animals Find Onions Toxic?

Like dogs, a handful of animals could get deathly sick after consuming onions. Cats, cows, horses, goats, and some birds could all get very sick after eating rabbits. 

Onions have a chemical called propyl disulfide; this chemical is also found in scallions and chives. It is essentially the chemical that gives these vegetables their strong stench but also can cause anemia in the animals that are allergic to onions. 

Pests and Bugs That Eat Onion Plants

Just like animals, there are a large handful of bugs and pests that highly enjoy the strong onion stench and flavor. Let’s discuss. 

Onion Maggots: Onion maggots are tiny little larvae that live below onions in the soil and burrow tiny holes through the ground into the onions, eating away at them. 

Onion Thrips: While onions often ward off many pests and bugs, thrips are still very attracted to onions. They are also attracted to other garden plants and will take over a garden, eating away at everything if they are not controlled.

Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers are some of the more common bugs that eat onions. They highly enjoy the onion flavor and will eat the tops and the onion itself. 

Leaf Miners- Leaf miners often hide their eggs within the leaves of the plants but also eat all the green parts of plants. 

Cutworms: Cutworms are another very common onion attacker. Cutworms are larger worms that only really come out at night. They work quickly and in large groups, eating away at the entire onion plant until nothing is left. 

Slugs and snails: Slugs and snails often turn to vegetables once there isn’t anything left in the soil for them to eat. They will usually for leafy greens before onions; however, they will work their way to the onions and eat through the whole plant. 

How To Prevent Animals and Bugs From Eating Onion Plants

Funnily enough, people plant onions to keep certain pests away from their gardens, but while that may work, other pests and animals will come to look for the onions. Luckily, you can try a few things to keep these bugs and animals away from your onions and garden.

Preventing Animal DamagePreventing Pest Damage
It can be a challenge to keep
certain animals out of the garden. There
are sprays like hot pepper sprays and castor
oil sprays, that when sprayed on plants, may 
keep the animal damage at bay. You can 
also try caging your plants with metal cages 
plastic trellis, and put up good fencing around
your garden in attempts to keep the animals out.
Preventing pest damage is important
as you want to stop the infestations from
getting too large and taking over your 
garden. If the damage is minimal and the
pests aren’t too bad, usually a spray of 
vinegar and liquid dish soap will work
wonders. However, if the infestation has
gotten out of hand, you may want to try
organic pesticides.

Final Thoughts

Onions are a great thing to plant in your garden to keep away pests and animals that might do even worse harm than the pests and animals going after the onions. Luckily, everything that goes after onions can be managed, and measures can be taken to prevent these things from crushing an onion crop. Just make sure always to try and catch the predators before it goes too far. Happy gardening!