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Something is eating my tomatoes!

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

    Hi All,

 

  I have two gardens, one at home...and one at work.  The soil at work isn't all that great (ph too high) but I'm trying to address that each year.  Besides having the soil problems we also have some heavy winds too (which doesn't seem to help much)

 

   Having a few strikes against us already...I would like to enjoy the fruit that we are getting...BUT SOMETHING IS EATING OUR TOMATOES! 

 

 

     I don't know what it is for sure.  I haven't seen fruit eaten quite like this (I'll have to get a picture).  Usually half of the fruit is eaten in what looks to be many channel type bites.  

 

     We have just about everything you can expect in northern Illinois.  Rabbit, ground squirrels, coyote, plenty of birds (which include pheasant)...I've even seen a medium sized turtle climbing up the hill toward our garden.  Recently someone mentioned that it may be pheasant.  I haven't heard this before...but something is certainly enjoying them.

 

    I plan to put some chicken wire around it...but would still like to know what it may be.

 

    I'll get some pictures posted in the next couple of days.

 

 

  thanks,

 dan

post #2 of 29

Sounds like a Tomato Horn Worm . They are big but very hard to see. They blend in with the stems of the plants. They look prehistoric.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 29

Hard to tell, without seeing the damage, what's causing it, Dan.  But pests are unlikely, based on your description. I'm betting on furry critters.

 

Hornworms do not eat the fruit, they eat the foliage. Besides which, northern Illinois is covered up with predatory wasps, so hornworms, if present, are not a long-term problem in the home garden.

 

Tobacco worms, which are more of a problem with tomatoes than tobacco (go figure), are similar to hornworms, but ugly as home-made sin. Think of a large worm that looks like a strand of green pop-beads.

 

There is a tomato fruitworm that eats the fruit, but it burrows in and takes up housekeeping. You'll know if you have them, because you'll find them in the fruit.

 

I would doubt that it's birds, because with them the damage usually is a bunch of holes drilled in to the fruit. Birds generally are after the moisture, rather than the tomato flesh per se. Pheasants do enjoy tomatoes, but most of the time they eat them on the ground.

 

Channel cuts usually indicate incissor teeth. But it's probably not raccoons. Raccoons are great on causing damage, because they tear down the plants, then take one or two bites from each fruit. Opposum do less damage, but you'd still find the plants torn down.

 

Squirrels are more likely to eat part or all of the fruit and then depart. There's also a possibility that it's rabbits. If your plants are caged they actually stand up, leaning against the cage, and munch away.

 

One solution would be to take a damaged fruit to the nearest Extension office and ask them if they can identify the cause.

 

Wish I could be more help.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

   Well, I'll have to wait a while before I get a picture.  All the mature tomatoes are already gone from the plant.  

 

 

    dan

post #5 of 29

If it was eaten half, it might be a worm or a bird... anyway, I'm interested to see what kind of creature attacks your tomato.


Edited by cookpiper - 7/9/10 at 12:08am
post #6 of 29

I found a Horn worm on one of my tomato plants this morning. It was huge, shaped, colored and textured like a tomato stem. Ate 2/3 of the leaves off the plant and some parts of tomatoes. Hope it survives.

 

The other plants looked fine.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 29

Been told that planting mint around tomatoes helps keep the worms at bay. Don't know if it's true but i have mint all over my garden and have only lost tomatoes to marauding sheep, not worms. they plowed right through fences that keep deer at bay the dirty rotten so and so's.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #8 of 29

Mint is a great companion plant, Gunnar. But I never heard of it deterring hornworms. Mint helps with ants, aphids, even flea beetles. The downside, of course, is that mint is invasive, and takes over the whole neighborhood.

 

To deter hornworms, the companions of choice typically are borage (which has the secondary benefit of providing edible flowers), sage, and pot marigold. Calendula serves the same purpose, and is a great medicinal herb as well.

 

Maybe somebody should start a thread on companion plants and what they're good for?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 

    I pulled my mint years ago, yet I still battle with it when it comes back.  My mint was always a magnet for slugs and also for a certain type of caterpillar (identity I don't know).  During a certain part of the year the underside of the leaves would be covered with tons of caterpillars.

 

   I think there may be a ground squirrel eating the ripening tomatoes.  

 

 

  thanks,

dan

post #10 of 29

I've just checked my book and  tomato moth could be a culprit. If thats the culprit, destroying the crop is the only treatment.

Sun scald leaves bite sized chunks in the fruit.No treatment butthey do reccommend painting glass with cool glass?

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #11 of 29

Firstly, I plant extra for any crtters that decide they want to munch. They will not eat it all and if the plant is established, it will do alright.
Think of it this way, I believe ( believe ) that the tomato worm will turn into a gorgeous Luna Moth once it pupates. Don't you want to

help that critter to thrive ? I do.

 

If you want to stop them caters: you can sprinkle sifted wood ash on at night after you water, and wash it off in the AM.

 

Sprinkle cayenne pepper around base of plant .

 

Also watch out for squirrels and cats. While tomatoes is a night shade, those guys will eat the strangest things.

 

index.jpg

post #12 of 29

Nice picture of a luna moth, Bellybones. But I believe you're confused. The tomato hornworm is the larval form of the 5-spotted hawkmoth, not the luna.

 

Also, why are you watering in the evening? That's a great way of promoting fungal diseases.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

tomatoeatersmall.JPG

 

tomatoeater2small.JPG

 

  That's what they looked like.  

 

???

 

   We would see several different types of critters on the property.  Coyotes, rabbits, ground squirrels, pheasants, doves, other birds, fox and even a big ol' snapping turtle was seen making the trek up the hill to the garden.

 

  dan

post #14 of 29

I should correct, moisten is more the term. Simply wet 'em and drop on the ash.

Works great for slugs .

post #15 of 29

I guess, it was not an insect that attacked your tomatoes. it must be a squirrel or a rabbit.

post #16 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeMadeCook View Post

I guess, it was not an insect that attacked your tomatoes. it must be a squirrel or a rabbit.



   We've got a lot of critters around us...but no squirrels.

 

   thanks,  

  dan

post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonefishin View Post





   We've got a lot of critters around us...but no squirrels.

 

   thanks,  

  dan


 

So possibly, what kind? Because, as I see those pictures. It is not an insect that can eat or bite that size. smile.gif

post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 

    

 

Quote:
Rabbit, ground squirrels, coyote, fox, plenty of birds (which include pheasant)...I've even seen a medium sized turtle climbing up the hill toward our garden

 

 

   I have no doubt I'm forgetting quite a few other creatures.  The culprit feasted on many of the tomatoes from the beginning of the tomato harvest on through until about the middle of the harvest.  We are actually still getting a lot of tomatoes at work and whatever was eating them has stopped or gone away.  But it's pretty late in the season and I'm surprised we're getting any tomatoes...let alone this many.

 

    dan

post #19 of 29
Thread Starter 

   I keep thinking that it looks like a like a beak.  I have thought before that a turtle has to have a pretty good reason to climb a hill and I maybe right.  I don't know if he was the culprit or not...and I did not take this video.  I just decided to search for turtles eating tomatoes and this is what the search gave me.  

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXMnHKs1EzY&feature=related

 

   The tomato being eaten does look remarkably like it could be from a turtle.  I'm not sure what tomatoes look like once a rabbit has eaten half of it.  Surprisingly I had an easier time finding a video of a turtle eating a tomato than I did finding a rabbit eating one.

 

 

  thanks,

 dan

post #20 of 29

Maybe, it can be. As I saw the video, the tomato is almost similar to your pictures. smile.gif

post #21 of 29

My tomatoes look just like the ones in the photos but are double CAGED!!!  I can't even get my hand on the cage yet something ate these on the vine and not from the outside of the cage.  I use 6 foot chicken wife and these tomatoes were 3 feet from the ground while the plant is about 7 feet high?  Every ripe tomato is being eaten on the vine like this and I have 2 gardens in my yard.  I don't see how a rabbit or racoon could get to these tomatoes....make no sense.

 

We also had somthing eat all our chicken head first over 3 nights earlier this summer.  We're in Southern Indiana close to the Ohio River...any help?  

post #22 of 29

Last summer here in a community garden where I had a plot we decided it was probably rats eating the melons and tomatoes. They were pretty thorough about it, too.

post #23 of 29

I have the EXACT same problem, some critter is eating the mature fruit from the blossom end. Definitely not an insect. I have been out there at all times of the day and even put bird netting up but something keep eating them I'm betting a squirrel but it seems to be happening at night and squirrels are not nocturnal. It happened last year as well and it makes a mess

post #24 of 29

Squirrels.

post #25 of 29

Soak some cotton balls in peppermint oil and scatter them around them by the plants.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #26 of 29

Eat the squirrels.

post #27 of 29

Didn't there used to be a "Chef's Garden" or some such forum?

 

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by teamfat View Post
 

Didn't there used to be a "Chef's Garden" or some such forum?

Used to be. But it was pretty dead, which is probably why Nicko decided to axe it. 

post #29 of 29

Birds love tomatoes. They also eat a lot of nasty critters too.

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