I have a 3x3 strawberry patch in my plot in a community garden. Although it...
I have a 3x3 strawberry patch in my plot in a community garden. Although it is producing lots of strawberries, they are all getting eaten by some pest. I don't think it is birds or slugs, because I see what look like nibble marks on multiple berries (I can send photos if it will help). Whatever it is doesn't eat the full berry. Building a wire cover doesn't seem like a realistic option for me. Are there any other recommended techniques for protecting the fruit (and identifying the pest)? Thanks.
There are several different insect pests of strawberries. For example slugs feed on ripe fruit, leaving small, deep holes in the fruit, usually under the cap and irregular holes in foliage. Sap beetles feed on overripe or rotting fruits that remain in the garden. Animals such as squirrels, turtles, birds, rabbits, and mice may feed on the fruit.
Please send us digital photos so we can help in identification of the pest.
We cannot identify the pest that is feeding upon the strawberries from your photo. To protect next year, cover the plants with floating row cover after bloom is over. Or keep the cover on until bloom. At bloom remove the cover for insect cross pollination.
If birds are an issue, cover with bird netting. Slugs - you will have to monitor for them. Try trapping. See our pest profile http://extension.umd.edu/growit/insects/slugs
As mentioned in our previous responses to you there are several pests as well as wildlife that may feed on strawberries. We cannot identify the culprit from your photos. Another thought is to go out at night and monitor if possible. See control options above.