What Is Eating My Marigolds? | 12 Pests and How to Get Rid of Them

Marigolds are beautiful yellow and orange annuals that look great and are easy to grow. They can get attacked by common pests including aphids, birds, caterpillars, grasshoppers and Japanese beetles.

This article will explore 12 pests that will attack marigolds and how to get rid of them.

12 Pests That Love Marigolds

Here is a list of the most common pests that will attack marigolds and how to get rid of them.

1. Aphids

Aphids love eating the leaves of marigold plants, and can often be found underneath the leaves as well. To get rid of them, spray the plants with a fast yet of water two or three times per week.

The aphids are so tiny they’ll fall to the ground, and the dampness of the leaves prevents them from climbing back on the plant.

Another option is to spray the marigolds with neem oil. This natural extract will get rid of the aphids without harming the good insects in your garden.

2. Birds

Crows, robins, and blackbirds especially love marigolds. They destroy the marigolds when they go in search of slugs and snails, which they love.

To get rid of them, you can grow your marigolds in a tomato cage or cover them with netting.

3. Caterpillars

Caterpillars love to eat the leaves of your marigold plants, and like snails and slugs, you can pick them off and place them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

Once you do this, you can use a mild insecticide to keep the rest of them away. Never use any type of trap because they may attract other pests instead.

4. Thrips

Thrips are winged insects that are usually either black, yellow, or green in color. They like to suck the sap out of marigold leaves, which can sometimes attract ants, although it’s the sap that the ants love and not the plant itself.

To get rid of thrips, mix 1 teaspoon of neem oil, 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap, and a quart of clean water. Mix them together in a spray bottle and spray the plant once a week.

5. Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers will chew on the leaves and flowers of marigolds in your garden. You can kill grasshoppers by placing them in a bucket of soapy water if you can catch them.

Grasshoppers are a common pest that will come out in spring. Spray the plants with neem oil to kill the pests and repeat again in a week if they are still around.

Check out this video that talks more about how to control grasshoppers on Marigolds.

6. Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles can move in and attack marigolds. Japanese beetles can be plucked off the plants and then destroyed in a bucket of soapy water.

A mild insecticide afterwards usually prevents them from coming back, and you may have to apply this regularly to keep them away for good.

7. Mice

Mice can chew on marigold leaves and flowers if food is scarce.

If you find that mice and rats are getting to your marigolds, you can place them in hanging baskets where the mice can’t get to them. If that’s not an option, make sure the area around your marigolds is clean so the rodents don’t have any hiding spaces.

8. Rabbits

Rabbits will go in search of marigold leaves when they are hungry. The best thing to do to get rid of them is to cover your marigolds with some type of netting.

You can also add fencing that is at least 3 feet high around the plant. Make sure it goes deep into the soil so that these animals won’t dig underneath the plant to get to it.

9. Snails and Slugs

Slugs and snails usually come out at night and eat your marigolds. You can put gloves on and pick them off the plants, then place them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

To prevent them from coming back, dig a hole in the soil and place a container filled with beer in the hole so the pests fall in and become intoxicated, which causes them to drown.

10. Spider Mites

If you notice tiny white webs on the foliage of your marigolds, you probably have spider mites. They eat holes in the leaves and drain them of nutrients, causing the leaves to die eventually.

To get rid of them, spray the plants once a week with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of neem oil, 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap, and a quart of clean water.

11. Squirrels

Just like rabbits, squirrels search for marigolds when they get hungry, and you can use the same two methods to get rid of them – install a three-foot-tall fence all the way around the plant or cover the plant with some type of netting.

12. Deer

If you leave near a natural habitat then deer can move in and snack on your marigolds.

The best course of action to take is to install motion-detector sprinklers, set up cat-eye lights, use some type of deer repellant, or make sure there’s a little noise around the marigolds to scare them away.

How to Stop Bugs from Eating Marigolds

Sometimes prevention works better than trying to get rid of the pests after they arrive. Nevertheless, you can stop bugs from eating marigolds by:

  1. Not over-watering your plants (bugs love moisture)
  2. Spray leaves with a mixture of water and dish soap
  3. Avoid over-fertilizing your plants
  4. Place metal netting over the plants
  5. Spray them with Neem oil at the start of spring
  6. Create a barrier on top of the soil, such as sand soil, or sprinkle cinnamon on top
  7. Consider placing the marigolds in hanging baskets or on top of tall plant stands


Lots of different pests can attack your marigolds, and the best way to get rid of them is to prevent them from visiting your plants in the first place. If you can identify the pest, it’s a lot easier to get rid of it, and often natural remedies work better than synthetic chemicals.