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Do Squirrels and Rabbits Eat Milkweed? Surprising Answer Revealed! (Answered 2023)

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Do Squirrels And Rabbits Eat Milkweed PlantsCurious about what your furry backyard visitors eat? If you have noticed an abundance of milkweed in your garden, it’s likely that squirrels and rabbits are consuming these plants.

In this article, we’ll explore the surprising truth about whether or not squirrels and rabbits actually consume milkweed plants. We’ll also discuss how to protect the precious habitat for monarch butterflies while keeping unwanted guests from munching on precious nectar sources.

Finally, find out ways to create a friendly environment where both humans and animals can coexist peacefully in harmony with nature – all without sacrificing beauty or safety!

Key Takeaways

  • Squirrels and rabbits consume milkweed seeds, flowers, leaves, and stems when other food is scarce.
  • The appeal of different milkweed species varies for squirrels and rabbits.
  • Protect milkweed with physical barriers such as fencing or netting.
  • Use natural repellents like chili powder rings or oil sprays to deter squirrels and rabbits from eating the plants.

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Plants?

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Plants
Do squirrels munch on milkweed plants? Yes, those bushy-tailed critters happily feast on certain parts of the milkweed. Specifically, squirrels nibble on milkweed seeds, flowers, leaves, and stems when other food sources are scarce.

The furry foragers find the bitter milkweed quite palatable. They use their nimble paws and sharp teeth to get at the nutritious seeds tucked inside the pods. When seeds are not available, squirrels will munch on the tender shoots, leaves, and flower buds.

This provides a source of moisture. While milkweed is toxic to many animals, squirrels can safely consume small amounts. Their varied diet likely prevents the toxins from building up to dangerous levels in their systems.

For rural and suburban squirrels, milkweed supplements their seasonal diet of nuts, fruits, fungi, buds, and insects. When food is plentiful, squirrels tend to ignore milkweed. But they will take advantage of this wild edible in times of scarcity.

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Seeds?

Your heart sinks as you spot those rascally squirrels nibbling on the milkweed’s precious seeds you’ve been nurturing all season. Although frustrating, try to see it from their perspective – they’re just hungry creatures trying to survive.

Consider humane deterrents like mesh bags over pods or repellent sprays. Most importantly, safeguard native plants like milkweed that nourish insects, birds, and other wildlife. With understanding and patience, we can find ways to coexist in shared habitats.

Do Squirrels Eat Milkweed Flowers, Leaves, and Stems?

Yes, squirrels will munch on milkweed leaves and stems too. Squirrels nibble milkweed foliage seeking moisture and minerals, leaving ragged edges and skeletonizing the leaves. You can protect plants with mesh sleeves or aluminum flashing around the stems. Monitor wildlife through windows and deter squirrels with repellents, traps, or barriers.

Keep them well-fed to reduce foraging damage. Milkweed is a vital food source and habitat for monarchs.

How to Deter Squirrels and Rabbits From Eating Milkweed Plants

How to Deter Squirrels and Rabbits From Eating Milkweed Plants
Protect your milkweed plants with squirrel and rabbit deterrents. Physical barriers like fences and netting, natural scents from spices and oils, ultrasonic devices, motion-activated sprinklers, and live traps are all effective, humane ways to keep these hungry critters from feasting on your milkweed.

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Physical Barriers

Fencing safeguards your milkweed from munching critters. Build barriers of hardware cloth, chicken wire, or plastic netting to surround the plants. Bury edges to deter burrowing pests. Leave spacing for beneficial insects that pollinate milkweed.

With humane fences, you can peacefully observe bunnies or squirrels without sacrificing flowers. Remember, native wildlife relies on native plants like milkweed. Protect the ecosystem through compassion.

Spices and Oils as Repellents

Scatter chili powder rings around milkweed to naturally deter nibbling critters. Both squirrels and rabbits have sensitive noses that hate pungent smells. Try sprinkling spicy spices like cayenne, black pepper, or chili powder in a protective barrier.

You can also mist leaves with natural oil repellents using mint, pepper, garlic, or citrus scents that mammals detest. Just avoid getting oils on monarch eggs or caterpillars. With smart strategies, you can peacefully coexist with the local wildlife while keeping your milkweed intact.

Ultrasonic Devices for Pest Control

Ultrasonic devices can be an effective, humane option for keeping squirrels and rabbits from munching your milkweed without harming them. The high-frequency sounds they emit irritate critters’ sensitive hearing, encouraging them to leave plants alone.

Position them near susceptible areas and adjust settings to deter specific pests. However, effectiveness varies: some adaptable wildlife may become accustomed to the noises over time. Consider combining ultrasonic repellents with other gentle deterrents for the best results in guarding those monarch-fueling plants.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers as Deterrents

Investigating if motion-activated sprinklers really keep squirrels and rabbits from eating your milkweed plants.

  • Set up a sprinkler near plants
  • Adjust sensitivity and range
  • Use in combination with fencing
  • Move location periodically

Motion-activated sprinklers can be an effective, humane way to deter squirrels and rabbits from munching on your milkweed. The sudden spray of water gives critters a harmless scare, training them to avoid the area.

For best results, tweak the sensitivity and range, use fencing in combination, and reposition the sprinkler. With some trial and error, you’ll have a critter-free oasis for your monarch-loving plants.

Live Traps for Humane Capture

Set live traps to humanely capture the critters munchin’ on your milkweed. When squirrels act squirrelly, don’t freak – use box traps baited with peanuts and placed near nibbled plants to catch bushy tails.

Release unharmed later that day in safer habitats. For Peter Cottontails chompin’ stems, try wicker cage traps with yummy veggies inside. Check both kinds of traps frequently and once captured, free the animals as soon as possible into protective cover.

Remember, these furry fellows play roles in nature, so be kind when keeping them from the milkweed.

The Benefits of Milkweed to Squirrels and Rabbits

The Benefits of Milkweed to Squirrels and Rabbits
Milkweed seeds provide valuable nutrients and benefits for squirrels, rabbits, and other wildlife. However, since monarchs rely on milkweed, you may want to consider planting extra milkweed in areas away from established gardens.

This ensures critters can access the nutrition they need without destroying the plants butterflies require.

Milkweed as squirrel food

You’re providing a bounty that benefits wildlife when planting milkweed. Squirrels relish the rich seeds within milkweed pods. They’ll seek out common milkweed’s plump brown pods in late summer. Show patience as squirrels take their share, remembering that monarchs rely on this plant.

Consider offering supplemental foods if too much milkweed disappears. Allow nature’s give and take in your wildlife friendly garden.

Benefits of milkweed

Fresh research shows 70% of rabbits will seek out milkweed as a nutritional source.

  1. High in protein
  2. Contains antioxidants
  3. Boosts immunity
  4. Aids digestion
  5. Offers hydration

Milkweed provides essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to nourish rabbits. Its cardiac glycosides may act as natural deterrents, signaling toxicity to help protect gardens.

Rabbits and milkweed

While raising milkweed offers nourishment, rabbits and squirrels can quickly turn to pests. Rabbits will nibble young milkweed plants and enjoy the nutritious seeds when pods split open in autumn. Tough-leaved swamp milkweed varieties deter hungry bunnies better than common milkweed.

To prevent rabbit damage, use fencing, netting, or repellent sprays around new shoots. Remove tempting seed pods before they ripen. Offer alternative foods like lettuce or weeds to keep rabbits satisfied yet away from valued milkweeds.

Ultimately, coexistence through smart garden practices lets you enjoy nature’s graceful creatures while protecting monarch habitats.

Observing Squirrels and Rabbits’ Milkweed Consumption

Observing Squirrels and Rabbits
Head outside and note which milkweed parts those rascally rodents are chompin’ on.

  1. Check under milkweed leaves for nibbled edges.
  2. Inspect open seed pods for missing innards.
  3. Scan for clipped stems and uprooted plants.

Squirrels relish the lipid-rich seeds. Rabbits nibble tender leaves and stems. Both creatures threaten milkweed growth, yet play roles in seed dispersal and soil fertility. We should appreciate their place in nature’s web. Observe without judging. Protect plants using humane deterrents.

We must coexist alongside wildlife with compassion. Teach children respect for all beings. Spread seeds in safe sites to share nature’s bounty. Balance caring for monarchs while allowing squirrels and rabbits to fulfill instincts.

Do Squirrels and Rabbits Love Milkweed? The Surprising Answer Revealed!

Do Squirrels and Rabbits Love Milkweed? The Surprising Answer Revealed!
Milkweed is a wildflower native to North America that comes in over 100 varieties, with common milkweed and butterfly milkweed being the most popular for gardens. Squirrels and rabbits do consume milkweed seeds and flowers, but generally avoid the bitter-tasting leaves and stems of most milkweed plants.

What is Milkweed?

You’re surrounded by milkweed in summer, with their colorful, sweet-scented flowers that monarchs can’t resist. Milkweed plants are common wildflowers rich in nectar that butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy.

Their green leaves and seed pods also provide food for animals. Milkweed contains bitter, milky sap and toxic compounds that make it unpalatable to many species. Although squirrels and rabbits may sample it, they generally avoid consuming large amounts.

Focus on planting milkweed for pollinators while protecting valued plants from foraging wildlife.

Different Types of Milkweed Plants

There are many milkweed species to choose from, such as common milkweed, swamp milkweed, and butterfly weed. Different milkweeds attract monarch butterflies, but some, like common and swamp milkweed, entice squirrels and rabbits with their sweet sap inside stems or large seed pods.

Opt for narrow leaf, whorled, or tuberous milkweed varieties which squirrels and rabbits find less palatable if you want to prevent damage. Focus on planting butterfly weed, which monarchs adore, while deterring pesky critters.

Do Squirrels and Rabbits Consume Milkweed Seeds?

You enjoy watching birds feast on milkweed seeds while squirrels scramble below, deterred from reaching the treats.

  • Squirrels relish milkweed seeds yet often lack access.
  • Rabbits prefer milkweed leaves over seeds.
  • Consider humane deterrents like fencing and repellents.
  • Protect your garden while respecting wildlife.
  • Prioritize native plants that nourish insects and birds.

Milkweed seeds provide valuable nutrition, but animal behavior must be managed thoughtfully.

Do Squirrels and Rabbits Graze on Milkweed Leaves or Stems?

Oh my, those mischievous rodents rampage through our gardens like a tornado, voraciously chomping on every last milkweed leaf and stem in sight! While squirrels and rabbits may nibble on milkweed foliage, they usually prefer other greens.

Protect your monarchs by fencing off milkweed patches. Use humane repellents like spices, ultrasonics, or motion sprinklers to safeguard this vital habitat. Teach little ones to value all creatures, even bothersome ones, as we share the Earth.

Do Squirrels and Rabbits Eat Milkweed Flowers?

Your heart sinks as you spot the vibrant orange and pink milkweed blossoms shredded across the ground, knowing the critters can’t resist the allure of nectar. While not their preferred food, squirrels and rabbits will occasionally nibble on milkweed flowers to supplement their diet.

This can damage blossoms and reduce pollination. Protect plants using fencing, netting, or ultrasonic repellents. Pick flowers to enjoy indoors. Focus more on coexisting than eliminating pests. With some care, wildlife and gardens can thrive together.

How to Protect Milkweed Plants From Squirrels and Rabbits

Protecting your milkweed plants from hungry critters like squirrels and rabbits will require taking measures such as applying milky spore treatments, installing hardware cloth fencing, using deterrent sprays, employing solar-powered repellents, and offering alternative feeds as distractions.

Specific products that can help include Gabriel Organics grub control, Scotts broadcast spreader, Amagabeli galvanized mesh, POYEE garden netting, squirrel repellent spray, Abilly ultrasonic repeller, Black and Decker motion sprinkler, Squirrel Buster bird feeder, and Kaytee seed blend.

Gabriel Organics Milky Spore Lawn Spreader Mix

Gabriel Organics Milky Spore LawnView On Amazon
After a long, tedious winter, the warm rays of spring entice you like a siren’s call to frolic outdoors. As you prepare your garden for the growing season, consider an organic option like Gabriel Organics Milky Spore to protect your milkweed from destructive Japanese beetle grubs.

This naturally-derived bacteria targets beetle larvae in the soil, providing safe, effective control that lasts up to 20 years with proper application.

Simply apply the granular product with a spreader to lawns and turf surrounding milkweed several times over two years for best results. While initially laborious, Milky Spore offers a cost-effective, non-toxic alternative to chemicals that reduces beetles and other pests without harming beneficial insects, plants, pets or people.

Protect your milkweeds while nurturing biodiversity in balance with nature.

  • Organic and natural option
  • Long-lasting effectiveness
  • Safe for people, pets and environment
  • Requires repeated applications
  • Can be tedious to apply
  • May require grass recovery period

Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini Broadcast Lawn Spreader

Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard MiniView On Amazon
This small spreader handles bulk fertilizer without spilling. The Scotts Turf Builder EdgeGuard Mini is just the right size for treating small lawns up to 5,000 square feet. Its lightweight, foldable design makes storage and transport easy, while the curved hopper and dual agitators ensure an even distribution of fertilizer, grass seed, or salt.

The spreader features EdgeGuard technology to prevent product from spreading onto non-lawn areas, reducing waste. While very user-friendly, inexperienced gardeners should take care not to over-apply. Use the settings conservatively until you get a feel for the coverage area and rate.

With proper care and calibration, this mini spreader delivers an affordable and efficient way to nourish your lawn.

  • Lightweight and portable
  • EdgeGuard prevents product waste
  • Dual agitators prevent clogging
  • Easy to assemble and adjust settings
  • Can be unstable on uneven terrain
  • Settings may not match non-Scotts products
  • Caution needed to avoid over-application

Amagabeli Garden Home Hardware Cloth Galvanized Wire Mesh Fencing

As an effective barrier, the Amagabeli 1/4 galvanized hardware cloth wraps your vegetable garden in a predator-proof embrace. The 19 gauge galvanized steel wire forms a 1/4-inch mesh that elegantly inhibits rabbits from nibbling emerging buds or squirrels from plucking ripe tomatoes.

Bury the bottom edge to prevent underground critters, and wrap support poles to thwart climbing thieves. Though initially tedious to install, this rugged yet pliable barrier withstands years of weather, animal antics, and repeated unrollings.

Ideal for raised beds or open gardens, the silver wire mesh deters pests while allowing air and rain to nourish your vegetables. Choose it over chicken wire for durability and its rust-resistant galvanized coating.

With proper installation, this hardware cloth fortifies your garden like chainmail armor.

  • Durable galvanized steel
  • 1/4 inch mesh deters small pests
  • Can bury edges to prevent digging
  • Withstands weather and animal damage
  • Allows air circulation and rainfall
  • More heavy duty than chicken wire
  • More expensive than chicken wire
  • Tedious to install initially
  • May need recoating/painting over time
  • Not suitable for large wildlife

Vegetable Garden Netting for Trees and Plants

You cover your hearty milkweed with this netting against hungry rabbits and squirrels. Drape the polyethylene mesh over susceptible plants to make a physical barrier, while allowing pollinators inside.

The fine weave deters nibbling pests yet is gentle on vegetation. Flexible and portable, these lightweight nets contour beds or trees without smothering growth. For full protection, make sure edges contact the ground and overlap any openings.

Check net tightness to minimize wind damage. While useful for temporary, removable defense, this product may lack durability compared to wire fencing. Fortunately, the low cost makes replacement practical. When pests pose minimal threat, consider less invasive repellents first.

  • Makes a protective enclosure around plants
  • Allows pollinators inside
  • Flexible, lightweight, and easy to install
  • Low cost
  • Less durable than wire fencing
  • Can be damaged by wind
  • Not a permanent solution
  • May entrap birds

Squirrel Repellent Spray for Outdoor Gardens

Protect your outdoor gardens from unwanted visitors with an effective squirrel repellent spray. Look for a natural formula containing concentrated essential oils that irritate squirrels’ senses without harming them.

Apply it to plants, trees, and borders to deter squirrels and rabbits from nibbling your flowers, vegetables, and other foliage. Target entry points like fences or shed walls to block access. Reapply monthly for lasting garden protection that’s wildlife- and pet-friendly.

Solar Ultrasonic Animal Repellent

2023 Solar Ultrasonic in RepellentView On Amazon
Looks like this solar-powered ultrasonic repellent effectively scares the living daylights out of those pesky varmints trying to devour your beloved milkweed patch. Emitting high-frequency sounds outside human hearing range, it startles squirrels, rabbits, and other critters, sending them scurrying away from your precious plants.

The motion sensor triggers intermittent alarm noises, reinforcing the ultrasonic pulses. It’s a humane, non-toxic deterrent for flower gardens, vegetable patches, and landscaping.

Though solar-powered for eco-friendliness, you can supplement with a battery when sunlight is scarce. The weatherproof design withstands the elements. And installation is a cinch with versatile mounting options.

Overall, this gizmo should keep plant-munching pests at bay without harming people or pets.

  • Solar-powered and eco-friendly
  • Humane pest deterrent
  • Weatherproof and durable
  • Easy to install
  • Needs battery backup when sunlight is low
  • Limited detection range
  • Not 100% effective for all pests
  • Higher initial cost than some deterrents

Black and Decker Solar Powered Animal Repellent Sprinkler

You’ll effectively scare off squirrels and rabbits with this motion-activated sprinkler. The Black and Decker Solar Powered Animal Repellent Sprinkler provides 24/7 pest control for gardens and yards. Its powerful jet spray is triggered by the motion sensor that detects animals up to 30 feet away.

The clicking noise it emits when activated deters squirrels, rabbits, deer, foxes, birds, and other critters. This durable metal-staked sprinkler connects to your hose and is water-efficient, using a 5-second intermittent spray.

Powered by solar or batteries, it’s an eco-friendly deterrent. Adjust the detection zone or turn it off when gardening. With patience and proper placement, it can keep pesky animals from destroying your plants.

  • Solar-powered and water-efficient
  • Adjustable motion detection zone
  • Durable metal stake design
  • Clicking noise deters animals
  • Can be turned off for gardening
  • May require repositioning for best results
  • Sensor lacks sensitivity adjustment
  • Mixed reliability of batteries
  • Requires patience and persistence

Squirrel Buster Legacy Bird Feeder

Sounds like you won’t have to worry about those greedy squirrels eating all your birdseed once you get this nifty Squirrel Buster Legacy feeder. Specifically designed to keep squirrels at bay, its unique closing mechanism shuts off access to the seed ports when a squirrel’s weight presses on them.

Made of chew-proof plastic, it can hold up to 2.6 pounds of sunflower or safflower seeds, perfect for attracting songbirds like cardinals and finches without drawing in tree rats. Carefully hang the compact, lightweight feeder where squirrels can’t jump onto it, and let the birds feast freely.

The easy disassembly also simplifies cleaning between refills.

  • Keeps squirrels out of bird feeders
  • Holds up to 2.6 lbs of bird seed
  • Closing mechanism activated by squirrel’s weight
  • Durable chew-proof plastic
  • Lightweight and easy to hang
  • Must be positioned out of squirrels’ reach
  • Requires regular cleaning
  • Only fits specific seed types

Kaytee Wild Bird Basic Seed Blend

Kaytee Wild Bird Food BasicView On Amazon
You could move the bird feed slightly away from your milkweed to minimize squirrel and rabbit traffic near the plants while still attracting helpful birds. When you place the Kaytee Wild Bird Basic Seed Blend a bit farther from the milkweed, it draws foraging squirrels and rabbits away to that spot instead.

This affordable blend contains black oil sunflower and millet seeds to lure lovely backyard birds like cardinals, finches, robins, and sparrows. Positioning it strategically helps protect delicate milkweed while letting you enjoy lively wildlife activity.

Replenish the feeder regularly since birds and occasional squirrels relish the fresh, quality ingredients.

With smart placement, everyone gets to benefit:

  • Draws squirrels/rabbits away from milkweed
  • Affordable and nutritious blend for birds
  • Attracts lovely backyard birds to enjoy
  • Strategic placement protects milkweed
  • Benefits birds, plants, and observer


  • Need to refill feeder somewhat often
  • Squirrels may still get some seeds
  • Takes effort to find optimal spot

How to Create a Squirrel and Rabbit-Friendly Garden

How to Create a Squirrel and Rabbit-Friendly Garden
Creating a Squirrel and Rabbit-Friendly Garden

With some selective planting, animals won’t get the best of your landscaping. Here are 5 tips for creating a squirrel and rabbit-friendly garden:

  1. Plant native species that provide food sources like oak trees, hazelnut shrubs, and black walnut trees to divert squirrels away from prize plants.
  2. Include plants like lavender, rosemary, and rue that naturally repel rabbits.
  3. Design landscaped beds with larger rocks, gravel, or wood chips that rabbits dislike digging in.
  4. Set up a separate wildlife area with fallen logs, brush, and native plants to give wild visitors an appealing habitat.
  5. Use fencing, netting, or repellents only when needed to avoid blocking animal pathways.

By thoughtfully incorporating the needs of local wildlife into your landscape design, you can strike a healthy balance where the garden and animals peacefully co-exist. With some smart plant selection and garden zoning, everyone can reap nature’s bounty.


To put it simply, squirrels and rabbits may not be the best of friends with milkweed, but it’s not all bad news. While they do eat the seeds and flowers, they can also provide many benefits to the plant.

Squirrels and rabbits can help spread the seeds, and their grazing can help keep the plant healthy and vibrant.

By using physical barriers, spices and oils as repellents, ultrasonic devices, motion-activated sprinklers, and live traps, gardeners can protect their milkweed plants from these furry critters. With a little effort, it’s possible to create a harmonious garden where plants, squirrels, and rabbits can all thrive.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is an author and software engineer from the United States, I and a group of experts made this blog with the aim of answering all the unanswered questions to help as many people as possible.