Protecting grapes is necessary if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labor. In this post, I will give you tons of tips for how to protect grapes from birds and bugs, and prevent these pests from destroying your harvest.
I think we can all agree that homegrown grapes fresh off the vine are irresistible! Well guess what, they’re not only delicious to us, the birds and bugs love them too.
Grapes left on the vine with no protection may become a feast for pesky critters, rather than for your family.
Birds can be a BIG problem for grapes, and they can quickly decimate your crop. Not only that, but there are several different insects that eat grapevine leaves and fruits too.
It can be extremely frustrating! But don’t worry, protecting grapes is easy to do, inexpensive, and only requires a little of your time and effort.
How To Protect Grapes From Birds & Insects
You don’t have to sacrifice your bounty to pests, you can keep it all to yourself, and it’s not that difficult. You just have to find the right method that works in your garden.
In my experience, the best way to keep the pests away from grapes is to use physical barriers like covers or netting.
But there are lots of other methods you can try, and you might just find that using a few of them together will work the best for you.
Protecting Grapes From Birds
Thankfully, birds aren’t usually attracted to grapes until they begin to ripen. So, you only need to worry about fighting them off for a few weeks at the end of summer.
Even so, birds will eat your entire crop in a few short hours, so it can be a difficult fight for sure. Here are a few protective measures to try…
- Bagging the bunches – Bag your grapes as soon as they start to ripen. Mesh or organza bags would be the best, to allow for airflow, and so you can easily see when they’re ripe. But you could use paper lunch bags, or wrap them in pieces of tulle fabric. Simply slide the bag over the cluster, and tie or staple it at the top. Do not use plastic, or the fruit could mildew or rot.
- Grapevine covers – Lightweight grapevine covers will keep the bugs off the leaves, and also protect the bunches from being eaten by birds or insects. I use tulle fabric for mine. It’s great because it’s light, and allows air, water, and sunlight to reach the plant.
- Bird netting – Common bird netting keeps them out, and you don’t need to put it on until the grapes start ripening. Plus it’s inexpensive, and readily available. Use netting with smaller openings (1/2″ is best). Remove it when you harvest to avoid it becoming tangled in the tendrils of the vines.
- Scare tape – If you’ve ever been to a vineyard, then you’ve probably noticed the bird scare tape (also called flash tape) used to protect grapes. Simply hang it near the vines, and when it blows around in the wind, the noise and reflection will scare the birds away.
- Bird repellent spray – Another easy method you can try is repellent spray. Though it may not work very well on its own, it can work great to help supplement your other efforts. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to reapply regularly, especially after a heavy rainfall.
- Wind chimes – I have a cute little wind chime in the center of my pergola. Not only does it look nice hanging down like a chandelier, the noise it makes scares the birds, and helps keep them away from my grapes.
Protecting Grapevines From Insects
The methods listed above work great to keep birds away, but they do nothing to protect grape leaves from insects. Bugs like Japanese beetles and grapevine beetles can feast on the foliage, and skeletonize the leaves very quickly.
Fortunately, this damage is usually only cosmetic, and it’s very rare that these pests will kill the plant. But, the tattered leaves still look terrible.
To keep the damage to a minimum, you can cover the entire grapevine with fabric. I use tulle to cover ours so the bugs can’t get through.
Related Post: How To Trellis Grapes In Your Home Garden
I get a lot of questions from new gardeners about how to cover grapevines. It can seem like an impossible task, especially for large vines.
Honestly, if your plants are huge, or extremely tall, then covering them may not be a practical solution. But, it’s not always that difficult, and it doesn’t take much time.
Why Cover Grapevines
Grapes cannot be ripened off the vine, they must stay on until they are fully ripe. The problem is that, once they start to ripen, they attract even more pests.
Covering grapevines can be tricky, but it’s worth the effort to keep them from being destroyed by bugs and birds.
How To Install Netting To Protect Grapes
Our grapes are growing on a tall pergola structure, so that made it a little more challenging to cover them with the netting or fabric. Below are the steps I took for covering my grapevines with tulle.
- Tulle fabric or bird netting
- Tall stakes (optional)
- Garden ties (optional)
- Scissors (optional)
Step 1: Attach the fabric to the support – First I stapled the tulle at the top of the pergola. If your vines aren’t growing on a wooden structure, then you can use ties to attach the fabric covering to the trellis. You could also use tall garden stakes to support the fabric, or drape it over the top of smaller vines.
Step 2: Wrap the grapevine – Wrap the tulle fabric loosely around the vines, encircling them with it. It’s important to keep the fabric loose enough so it doesn’t restrict the vines, especially if you plan to leave it on all summer.
Step 3: Secure the fabric closed – Carefully fold the tulle closed, and use clothespins to keep the fabric fastened together. The clothespins will make it easy to open the fabric and access the grapevines, and also to adjust the covering if necessary.
Protecting grapevines from birds and insects is a simple and inexpensive task, and in the end you will be glad that you did it. Try some of these methods to protect grapes this year so that you and your family can fully enjoy the bounty.
More About Garden Pest Control
- How To Control Garden Pests Naturally
- How To Make A Homemade DIY Fruit Fly Trap
- How To Use Eggshells As Organic Pest Control
- 85+ Deer Resistant Plants For Your Garden
Share your tips for protecting grapes from pests in the comment section below.