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What is Eating my Tomatoes? Causes & Fixes

Juicy Tomatoes are elite veggies suited for summer gardens, but backyard critters can feast on your precious harvest on hot days.

Generally, pests such as worms, beetles and caterpillars, herbivores like squirrels and groundhogs, and birds, including pigeons, robins, and cardinals, eat Tomatoes in the daytime. Besides, Tomato nocturnal invaders include slugs, snails, and herbivores like deer, skunks and raccoons.

It’s often distressing to see a half-eaten fruit or mauled Tomato Plant early in the morning.

So, stay with this article to save and harvest Tomatoes by keeping the intruders away!

What is Eating my Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are ready for picking from June to November (early summer to late fall).

But, many hungry pests and vermins also wake from hibernation in the summer and can chase Tomatoes to destroy them.

Image represents the common invaders of tomatoes
Many mammals, birds, and pests gnaw down the parts of the Tomato Plant.

Several pests are small, sneaky, and munch quietly, while some large critters may come in the day or take advantage of the night.

So, it’s important to identify these creatures and the signs left by them to keep your Tomato harvest safe.

1. Common Pests

Pests like worms, snails, bugs, and beetles are the most likely intruders on your Tomato Plants.

Worms and Insects

Worms like caterpillars, Tomato fruit worms, squash bugs, and hornworms are the culprits behind the holes in Tomatoes.

These worms tunnel into the berries, and infested fruits ripen earlier than their regular season.

They are voracious feeders active throughout the day and night that can also chew the leaves and stems.

Tomatoes start to rot from the core after infestation, and you might find small bite marks or holes with irregular edges in the leaves and stalks.

Stinkbugs make small pin-sized holes in the fruits and suck out the juices. The area around the bite mark turns yellow and begins to rot!

Worms attack the Tomato Plants to complete their lifecycle and hide under the leaves and inside the fruits from their predators.

Similarly, open wounds left by worms can be a starting point for fungal infections that can later spread to the whole vegetable patch.

Snail and Slugs

Snails and slugs are mostly active in moist and sunny weather.

These pests quietly attack the Tomatoes at night and chow the fruits, stems, leaves, roots, and flower stalks.

Their damage is pronounced in the plant parts closer to the moist soil surface.

In the daytime, they hide in the mulch, behind the pots, and often in warm, moist, shady places.

Snails and slugs form larger holes in the Tomatoes, leave large bite marks with irregular edges on the stems and leaves, and cut down the flower and root parts.

2. Pecking Birds

Birds usually target the ripe Tomato fruits present in the high vines.

Some native birds, like cardinals, bluejays, and robins, and non-native species, like pigeons, are after fresh summer tomatoes.

They peck their beaks in the Tomatoes to reach the seeds and juicy center. So, you may notice holes in Tomatoes fruits above the ground.

Normally, birds visit Tomato gardens during the day and are rarely nocturnal.

Although they mostly eat fruits, birds also pluck the parts from Tomato seedlings to build their nests.

3. Herbivores & Omnivores 

Animals like raccoons, rabbits, voles, and deer are nocturnal feeders.

They leave half-bitten Tomatoes, steal unripe fruits, cut the stems, tear the leaves, destroy the roots, or uproot the whole plants.

half eaten tomato
You can not notice mammals eating Tomatoes if you do not watch them.

Squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, and groundhogs are day intruders that take bites out of multiple Tomatoes and munch the roots

Most animals leave footprints on the ground, so it is easy to identify them. Others may leave poop trails all around the plants or vegetable patches.

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Can you Eat Tomatoes with Holes in them?

Your Tomatoes remain safe from the tomato fruit worms, snails, and slugs until they bear fruits.

These pests bore holes in the juicy berries and eat them from the inside out, leaving only slimy fluid and fecal remnants.

Generally, Tomatoes with hole-healing scars are safe to eat after a proper wash, but fruits with open holes or splits are unhygienic.

To detect snails and slugs, check for the sticky and shiny trail they leave behind. Meanwhile, Tomatoes infected by fruit worms ripe early than normal time.

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How to Treat the Attack of Tomato Eaters?

If you are too late in this time to safeguard Tomatoes, you can still prevent further damage to your crops.

  • Consider applying a weak blast of salt water to remove the pests and their eggs from the plant.
  • Trim the bitten parts and toss away the infected or rotten fruits.
  • Place sticky traps around the seedlings to trap hovering pests.
  • Spray neem oil at the site of infection to kill the sucking pests like stinkbugs.
  • Use backyard lights at night to scare off the herbivores.
  • Try using organic insecticides like Spinosad every other week during infestation to keep the chewing insects at bay.

How to Protect your Tomatoes from Being Eaten?

Prepare for the onsets early in winter to keep wild trespassers at bay.  

Also, there are several ways to prevent these intruders from eating the Tomatoes and destroying the plants.

IntrudersWays to Prevent
Worms and InsectsApply B.T. insecticides to the plant parts

Attract the predatory wasps by planting sunflower, fennel, parsley alongside Tomatoes

Grow companion plants like basil, dill, and marigolds around the Tomatoes to deter pests

Use garden covers to safeguard the fruits
Snails and SlugsSpray organic slug pellets around the plants

Water in the morning to keep the soil dry at night

Scatter crushed egg-shells in the soil

Place copper barriers around the Tomato plants
BirdsPlace bird feeders or baths around the garden patch

Keep scarecrows at the planting site

Cover the fruits with thin cloth to protect them
MammalsSetup scaring tactics like scarecrows around the Tomatoes

Place traps or cages to catch small mammals

Spray urine of the potential predators around the plants

Cover or grow the plants in steel nettings

Wrapping it Up!

Although Tomatoes fill your kitchen racks in the summer, the juicy fruits are also great snacks to fill the tummy of greedy wildlife.

So, identify intruders and use immediate methods to drive these raiders off your Tomato garden.

Also, use eco-friendly solutions that don’t harm other beneficial pollinators and animals.

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