bird damage

Vineyard pests and what to do about them

Vineyard pests: finding a balance

While many people associate the image of wild animals roaming amongst grapevines as a part of a romanticized and bucolic vineyard scene, if their density increases too much, their presence can quickly become a problem for vineyard managers and winemakers.

Not every animal is going to be causing you complications in the vineyard, and who knows, maybe you won’t have any issues at all and will find yourself living in perfect harmony with the animal kingdom surrounding you.

It’s a nice thought, but as you’ll soon learn if you haven’t already, there’s always going to be some kind of creature who just seems to be making your grape growing a lot more difficult than you had initially imagined it would be.

There are multiple kinds of pests you will encounter: mammals, insects, fungi, birds.

All of these can be our best friends or our worst enemies. As grape growers, we try to meet them somewhere in the middle, not over-encroaching on their needs, while still attempting to get a reasonable yield from the fruit you’ve spend an entire year growing.

While this list is by no means exhaustive (and is of course subjective, since wildlife differs dependent upon the location of your vineyard) it serves as a basic run-down on what pests you may encounter and how to approach the situation.


Deer, bears, raccoons, gopher, moles, mice. While the larger mammals will go straight for the leaves and grapes, the smaller ones will enjoy chewing at the roots of the vines, which can be much more damaging. Though mole hills can be annoying to walk on, let’s not make a mountain out of them unless it’s really causing damage to the vineyard.

Birds of prey are a great way to keep this issue in check. Deer and bear really need a fence to be kept out of vineyards. There are also deer repellents like Deer Off and Liquid Fence that can be used.

Cute but damage-inducing vineyard visitors


Japanese beetles, lady bugs, grape berry moth, cane girdler, mealybug. While spraying for these insects is probably the quickest and most effective remedy, some vineyard managers employ the likes of worker ducks or chickens to help eat the insects as well as the larvae.

You may see Japanese beetle traps out in vineyards, which serve as a means of attracting the beetles to one location, entering a box into which they cannot escape. The jury seems to still be out as to whether this is the best means of trapping them or if the pheromones just serve to bring more of the beetles nearby.

Though slow moving, Japanese beetles can cause a lot of harm to leaves in a short time


By far the most common fungal diseases you’ll encounter are powdery mildew, downy mildew, botrytis, black rot, and vine trunk diseases (esca). These can take hold very easily especially with the right weather and climactic conditions. Sprays are probably going to be your friend in these circumstances.

Powdery mildew can quickly ruin your crop. Get it taken care of ASAP


As you see, a lot of farm work and vineyard management is the recognition that this is all a balancing act. You don’t want to scare off all of the birds, lest you become overrun with rodents; but you also don’t want too many birds in the area that will start eating the berries.

In fact, eating the berries isn’t even the biggest issue here – the main problem caused by these birds is that as they peck into the grape, causing a hole, various diseases can take hold which then can proliferate. Try to support the presence of birds of prey in and around your vineyard, which will scare off these smaller birds. Most vineyards will use nets as a physical barrier to stop birds from reaching the berries, whereas others choose to use the likes of owl decoys, bird repellents, or noise producers (usually imitating a predatory bird call), Mylar balloons, or bird repellent scare tape.







We hope you don’t experience too many issues with vineyard pests, but it is bound to happen to everyone who decides to grow grapes – it just comes with the territory! As long as you stay on top of whatever issue arises, you should be good to go and on your way to restoring balance in the vineyard!