Help, Pecans Are Gone: What’s Eating My Pecans Off The Tree

Squirrel In The Garden With A Nut In Mouth
squirrel with a pecan
(Image credit: RyanPKelly)

It’s definitely an unpleasant surprise to head out to admire the nuts on your garden pecan tree only to find that many of the pecans are gone. Your first question is likely, “What’s eating my pecans?” While it could be neighborhood kids climbing your fence to pinch ripe pecan nuts, there are also many animals that eat pecans. Bugs might be the culprits as well if your pecans are being eaten. Read on for ideas on different pests that eat pecans.

What’s Eating My Pecans?

Pecan trees produce edible nuts that have a rich, buttery flavor. Sweet and delicious, they are used extensively in cake, candy, cookies, and even ice cream. Most people who plant pecans do so with the nut harvest in mind.

If your pecan tree is at long last producing a heavy crop of nuts, it’s time to celebrate. Keep an eye out; however, for pests that eat pecans. It happens this way; one day your tree is hanging heavy with pecans, then day by day the quantity decreases. More and more pecans are gone. Your pecans are being eaten. Who should go on the suspect list?

Animals That Eat Pecans

Many animals like to eat tree nuts just as much as you do, so that’s probably a good place to start. Squirrels are perhaps your best suspects. They don’t wait until the nuts are ripe but start gathering them as they develop. They can easily damage or take off with half a pound (227 g.) of pecans per day.

You may not think of birds as pecan eaters since the nuts are so big. However, birds, like crows, can damage your crop as well. Birds don’t attack the nuts until the shucks split. Once that happens, look out! A flock of crows can devastate the crop, each one eating up to one pound (0.5 kg.) of pecans per day. Blue jays also like pecans but eat less than crows.

Birds and squirrels are not the only animals that eat pecans. If your pecans are being eaten, it might also be other nut-loving pests such as raccoons, possums, mice, hogs, and even cows.

Other Pests That Eat Pecans

There is an abundance of insect pests that might damage the nuts as well. The pecan weevil is one of them. The female adult weevil punctures the nuts in summer and lays eggs inside. The larvae develop inside the pecan, using the nut as their food.

Other insect pests damaging pecans include the pecan nut casebearer, with larvae that feed on the developing nuts in the spring. Hickory shuckworm larvae tunnel into the shuck, cutting off the flow of nutrients and water.

Other bugs have piercing and sucking mouthparts and use them to feed on the developing kernel. These include brown and green stinkbugs and leaf-footed bugs.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.