Do you love to grow tomato plants in your garden? If you are an amateur gardener, then you must know that taking care of your tomato plants can prove to be quite challenging because several animals can eat tomato plants and their fruit.
Animals that eat tomato plants:
- Cabbage Worms
- Japenese Beetles
- Tomato Hornworms
While talking to my neighbor, who loves to grow different types of tomatoes, she told me that tomatoes are consumed by small insects, larger animals, and rodents.
This took me by surprise because tomatoes are pretty acidic fruits, and I was under the impression that animals would dislike tomatoes.
But she told me that, like humans, many animals love tomatoes. Some of the animals that love tomato plants are as follows:
List of animals that eat tomato plants:
Slugs are one of the most common pests in the garden, and they can cause significant damage to your tomato plants.
Slugs can consume and leave bite marks on the leaves, stalk, and fruits of the tomato plant.
If you see any signs of half-eaten leaves on your tomato plants, then the chances are that slugs have eaten these.
When slugs attack your tomato plants, they can significantly reduce your harvest as they attract other predators.
Moreover, as slugs eat young plants, your tomato plants will not reach maturity to bear fruit.
Thus, to protect your young tomato plants from slugs, you need to use commercial slug repellents or organic ones like spraying the soil surrounding your tomato plants with coffee.
2. Cabbage worms
Cabbage worms are the moth’s larval stage, and the insect prefers to lay eggs on vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
But the moths are also known to lay eggs on the underside of the leaves of the tomato plants.
Once the eggs are hatched, the larvae will consume the leaves and, later on, the tomatoes.
You can identify the cabbage worms quickly by the distinct green color of the larvae. You can also identify the worms by the looping way the worms move forward.
These pests can significantly reduce your harvest as they can consume ripe tomatoes, flowers, stems, and leaves.
Farmers use commercial insecticides and pesticides to control these worms.
Woodchucks or groundhogs belong to the rodent family, and the sweet smell of ripe tomatoes attracts these creatures.
However, they can prove to be dangerous for tomato plants as they destroy your harvest. When they enter a tomato field, woodchucks can trample and destroy a harvest.
They will eat the fruits and even break the branches of the tomato plant. Therefore, farmers growing tomatoes need to take precautions to protect their harvest against woodchucks.
You will find that farmers build fences around their tomato plants to prevent the woodchucks from reaching the tomato plants.
Other than that, they often set up traps and sensors to deter the creatures from entering the tomato fields.
Without the necessary precautions, farmers can lose their harvest to a woodchuck attack.
Deer love to eat tomatoes, and they will consume the fruit and the foliage.
Deer do not differentiate between the leaves and stem of the tomato plant and other foliage. Hence, deer can consume the entire tomato vine when it is available.
If you are an amateur gardener and have planted tomatoes in your garden, you need to take steps to protect these from deer.
If you have observed the white-tailed deer entering your garden at night, you need to build a fence around your plants to prevent the creature from gaining access to your plants.
The wild deer can identify tomato plants quickly, especially when the fruits ripen.
Deer have a keen sense of smell that helps them identify the location of the tomato. Once they have located the plants, they can consume the entire plant.
5. Japanese beetles
Japanese beetles are a known pest of tomato plants. These insects are known to consume the plant’s fruits, and they can destroy your harvest.
You can identify a Japanese beetle by its shape and its iridescent color. A Japanese beetle is a scarab beetle whose body color is copper and green.
Organic insecticides cannot control these beetles, and you will need to spray your tomato plants with commercial insecticides to protect your harvest.
Japanese beetles can attack tomato plants growing in gardens, pots, and plants grown commercially.
One way to protect the plants from Japanese beetle would be to cover the plants with holes to allow air but not big enough for the beetles to enter.
But this would be applicable only in gardens and not for those grown commercially. If you want to protect your plants, you will need to control these insects right at the onset.
Crickets are omnivores, meaning they can eat anything plant-based and animal-based. You will find that crickets can eat even rotting tomatoes as well as nectar.
Crickets eat ripe tomatoes as well as tomato plants and a significant cricket infestation can destroy a harvest.
If you want to protect your harvest from a cricket infestation, you first need to spray your plants with a commercial insecticide.
Another thing that gardeners often do to prevent crickets from attacking the tomato plants is to plant garlic, cinnamon, or hot chili pepper plants near the tomato plants.
These are natural deterrents for crickets, avoiding the tomato plants.
The smell from these plants will protect the tomato plants, and the crickets will tend to avoid the area where you grow these plants.
7. Tomato hornworms
Tomato hornworms are caterpillars and you can quickly identify them by the hornlike tail.
These worms can wreak havoc on your tomato plants as they can feed on your ripe and unripe tomatoes.
These caterpillars can also consume your tomato plants’ young leaves and completely defoliate your plants. This can ultimately stunt the growth of your plant.
Tomato hornworms will not only eat a few leaves and parts of the fruit; they can destroy a plant overnight.
Thus, if you are faced with an infestation of tomato hornworm, you must take steps to remove the infestation at the onset.
For example, you can spray your plants with water to remove the worms, or you can cover your trellised tomato plants with a cover to prevent the moths from reaching the plants to lay eggs.
This way, you can prevent an infestation of tomato hornworms.
Earwigs are similar to cockroaches, and they love to eat ripe tomatoes. But earwig infestation too can be a cause of concern for farmers and amateur gardeners growing tomatoes.
Earwigs attack ripe tomatoes, and hence, if you do not take steps to stop the infestation at the onset, it can result in a significant loss in the harvest.
One way to protect your harvest from earwig infestation would be to apply petroleum jelly on the plants to prevent the insect from reaching the fruits.
Otherwise, you can also try using borax. You can sprinkle borax around the plant to prevent the earwigs from reaching the plants.
This will prevent the insect from crawling up the plant and reaching the leaves and fruits.
If these methods are not sufficient to prevent an earwig infestation, you will have no option but to opt for a commercial insecticide to protect your harvest from the insects.
The animals that eat tomato plants at night are slugs, beetles, crickets, tomato hornworms, and earwigs because the place is dark and this is the time that farmers and gardeners are asleep. However, woodchucks do eat tomato plants but they are only active during the day.
Therefore, farmers and amateur gardeners need to take steps to protect their harvest from these pests, especially during the nighttime hours.