Tomatoes are both a gardener’s favorite plant and a problem child. Maybe because cultivating them is not that easy in our part of the world. It takes a long and anxious time for the spherical fruits to reach the desired ripeness. When they finally shine red towards us, we are overjoyed. However, it passes quickly when we find eaten fruit. Who is eating the tomatoes?
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These animals eat tomatoes
In the search for animal species whose diet includes tomato fruits, a motley list comes together. There are specimens among them that no tomato owner would think of at first glance:
- Green Caterpillars
Rarely is a gnawing animal caught in the act of stealing tomatoes from the bush or eating holes in them. But what we never miss is the result of their presence. With the eaten tomato in hand, the musing begins: Which animal could it have been? The aim is, of course, to protect the tomato fruits, which are still intact on the bush, from being damaged by damage until they are ready to be harvested.
- the culprit must be identified with certainty
- a mere suspicion is useless
- some assumptions later turn out to be wrong
- closer inspection is called for
- some animal tomato friends leave tracks
- Target countermeasures accordingly
Let’s look at this in detail below.
Woodlice not only lurk in dark and damp basements. They can be found outdoors and in bright rooms, among other things, under flower pots and plant remains. In greenhouses in particular, they are attracted to good hiding spots and, of course, plenty of food. Since tomato plants, bot. Solanum lycopersicum, which are often grown in greenhouses, suggests that woodlice could eat the tomatoes. Here’s how you can defend yourself against these crustaceans:
- set up artificial shelters
- eg upside down flowerpots with holes
- or moistened wood shavings
- add a hollowed-out potato as bait
- in the morning remove the accumulated isopods
- Avoid soil contact of plant pots
- Raise tomato pots onto rough stones
- allow the soil of infested specimens to dry out for a few days
Some gardens are inhabited by mice. Their numbers seem to increase significantly, especially after mild winters. They are shy and scurry away as soon as another creature appears near them. They seem to leave their feeding damage at night. Therefore, pay attention to the following points:
- for the presence of mice in the garden
- e.g. B. when a specimen scurries by
- Holes in the ground are an indication
- they mainly eat tomatoes near the ground
- tooth marks are occasionally visible on the fruit
Leave the eaten tomatoes hanging on the plant. Mice continue to eat them instead of nibbling on new ones. In the meantime, you can find out about suitable control measures and initiate them. You can protect low-hanging, healthy fruits by attaching small plastic flower pots underneath them. Then they can no longer be nibbled on from below.
Martens are useful because, among other things, they hunt rats. But they can also cause a lot of damage in our area of life. It’s not just about eaten tomatoes. Much worse or life-threatening are pitted hoses in the car. For this reason, these animals should be sought out at the slightest suspicion and immediately and consistently fought. However, martens are nocturnal animals and are therefore rarely sighted. But they are easy to track down.
- look out for unpleasant smells, paw prints or hair
- Discovered marten droppings are the best clue
- it is elongated and sausage-like
- about 2 cm thick and 8 cm long, the ends are pointed
Rats can also be up to mischief in the garden and eat the tomatoes, among other things. They don’t necessarily have to have their shelter in the garden. These can be so-called brown rats that roam around in a territory of several hundred meters. Nevertheless, you should act immediately if you associate eating tomatoes with a rat. They are known to multiply rapidly and can become a plague. If you haven’t seen the suspected specimen with your own eyes, then search the garden for its remains:
- the feces are spindle-shaped
- it resembles a grain of rice
- is about 2 cm long
- usually several Kötteln lie together in groups
An acute rat infestation is to be feared if the faeces discovered are black, shiny and soft.
Squirrels will eat red tomatoes and pick green ones to store in one place for storage. If the animal lives in or near the yard, you’re bound to see it occasionally. But no one should try to kill this cute little animal. If you don’t want to give him part of the harvest voluntarily, you can protect your Solanum lycopersicum. At the end of the text, protective nets and cultivation in the greenhouse are explained in more detail.
In some federal states, the raccoon population is large. Raccoons also venture onto private property. If you find well-stocked food sources there, such as a tomato bed or tomato plants on the balcony, it is almost impossible to drive them away. These wild animals can cause significant damage and infect us and our pets with diseases. But be careful: you are protected by law. Catching, relocating or even killing them is forbidden. Therefore, the focus must be on prevention. There are some means and devices on the market that drive away raccoons.
Cats have also been observed laying hands on ripe tomato fruit. If their desire for tomatoes gets the upper hand, they have to be scared away from there or the tomatoes have to be protected with nets.
Many bird species peck at ripe tomatoes. They can be observed during the day. They can also be clearly identified as responsible based on the typical food marks that they leave behind with their long beaks. The only thing that helps here is nets that prevent them from reaching the tomato fruits.
No garden owner needs to be informed about the effects of snails in the garden. The voracious crawlers are well known to everyone. They hardly spare a plant, not even Solanum lycopersicum. They like green tomato leaves as well as green and red fruits. They leave a telltale trail of slime in their wake. Individual specimens can be picked up by hand. For larger plagues, other control methods are needed, from which there are all sorts to choose from.
Hedgehogs are primarily insectivores. Plant foods are difficult for them to digest, so they avoid them. Nevertheless, tomato owners keep swearing that hedgehogs nibble on the fruits of their Solanum lycopersicum. Since it cannot climb, it will only reach the specimens below if it does. Protect these tomato fruits and leave the prickly animal alone.
Finally, another pest should be mentioned that also causes feeding damage to the Solanum lycopersicum. We are talking about the green caterpillars of the moth with the name vegetable owl.
- they are mostly found in greenhouses
- the caterpillars are green and about 4.5 cm long
- they hide during the day and feed at night
The vegetable owl is very keen to reproduce, so immediate control is strongly recommended. Moths and caterpillars must be combated in parallel.
- Attract butterflies in the greenhouse with sticky pheromone traps
- Don’t set traps outside
- that would attract additional moths from the neighborhood
- Collect caterpillars by hand in the morning
- Use preparations based on neem oil
Nets over tomato plants
A net stretched over Solanum lycopersicum in good time can catch some small animals such as e.g. B. Prevent birds, squirrels and hedgehogs from reaching for the tomatoes. But pay attention to a suitable mesh size. Tomato plants depend on bees as pollinators, otherwise there will be no fruit. These insects must therefore be able to slip through at any time.
Cultivate Solanum lycopersicum in the greenhouse
In the greenhouse, the tomatoes don’t just find protection from unloved constant rain. They are also inaccessible to animals such as hedgehogs, birds, squirrels, cats, raccoons, rats, etc. Unfortunately, tomato plants that have been planted in the garden and are currently threatened with being eaten cannot be transplanted into the greenhouse. But for the new season: cultivate in the greenhouse right from the start!