What Eats Dandelions?
If you have a lawn in North America, it's likely that you either have dandelions or have spent considerable time getting rid of them. This common weed is known for its yellow flowers and white, furry seed pods, but it's also a source of food for many types of animals, including humans.
Dandelions are a vitally important element of the diets of many flying and ground insects. Many types of bee and wasp, including the honeybee, bumblebee and bald-faced hornet, use dandelions as a food source. Other insects that eat dandelions include grasshoppers, mites, fireflies and butterflies.
If you have dandelions in your yard, it's not uncommon to see rabbits feasting on them. Dandelions are an integral part of the diet of many breeds of rabbit, including the eastern cottontail. White-tailed deer are also consumers of dandelions.
While dandelion flowers are a food source for insects and mammals, the seeds are eaten by many species of bird. In North America, birds such as the American goldfinch, northern bobwhite, wild turkey and white-throated sparrow make dandelion seeds a regular part of their diets.
You may see dandelions as a nuisance, but they can be a food source to humans, too. You can buy dandelion greens at grocery stores for an addition to salads, or you can simply pick them in your own yard, wash them and use them in the kitchen. Dandelions have a bitter taste, which is ideally offset in a salad containing traditional lettuce, onions and fruit slices. They have considerable nutritional value, mostly as an antibacterial substance.
Make Dandelions Die
Remove dandelions manually. Use a weeding tool specifically designed to remove dandelions. Typically, you insert the tool into the soil at the base of the dandelion and pull up. This is easiest after a rain. A nonselective herbicide, such as glyphosate, also eradicates them. Carefully spray the dandelions, not the surrounding grass and plants, especially if the herbicide in not safe for them. Reapply every spring and fall to keep the dandelion population under control. Encourage other plants and grasses to grow so the dandelions are crowded out and die. Space them close together to fill in the space.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Common Dandelion
- Alternative Nature Online Herbal; Dandelion; Deb Jackson, et al.
- Mother Earth News; Wild About Dandelions; Roger Doiron; 2008
- North Dakota State University Extension: Questions On Dandelions
- Cornell University: Ground Ivy and Dandelions
- Washington State University Extension: Fall is Good Time to Kill Dandelions
- Kansas State University: Lawn FAQs
- University of Minnesota Extension: Fall Weed Control for Home Lawns