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I have a small garden in my backyard (a 4x4 "square foot" garden). It has a variety of different plants in it. Recently I tried to grow melons in it (watermelons and cantaloupes). But, shortly after it grows a couple leaves I return the next day to find the leaves torn off the stem of the plant. Just the stem is left and torn pieces of the leaves. My other plants don't have this problem, it's just the melons. I replanted, and the same thing happened again. What could be doing this and how can I defend against it?

The photos below are from other plants in my garden that were damaged in similar ways. I'm not sure if it is from the same pest or not, but maybe it will provide a clue. Damaged lettuce Damaged peas

  • Do you have a picture? – black thumb May 20 '16 at 23:17
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    @blackthumb I'll try and post one soon. But, at this point all you have to see is a stem with no leaves. – Adam May 20 '16 at 23:21
  • Could it be deer damage? Rabbits? – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx May 21 '16 at 7:56
  • Where do you live, and what wild animals are common there? I'm pasting a tip that I saw on another forum. (Never tried it, myself)- "If you're curious about what's nibbling, you can capture footprints by sifting a layer of flour around your plants. About 1/8 inch thick should be enough. Buy the cheapest flour you can get. Actually, any kind of white powdery substance would work fine, but be careful to use something that won't contaminate the ground as it dissipates." – Diane May 21 '16 at 15:08
  • @blackthumb There wasn't much left of the melons now. But, I found 2 other damaged plants and posted pictures. Maybe they can give us a clue. – Adam May 24 '16 at 18:48
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It could be snails or slugs. You won't see them during the day but if you can go out after dark with a flash light you may be able to find the culprit (snails, slugs, rabbits, squirrels). You can also put a night vision camera outside if you want to see what is visiting you at night. You can also look below the leaves to see if you can spot any insects (caterpillars) that may be feeding on these leaves. These are all issues I have seen in my garden at various points in time.

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