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An animal is eating tomato plants in my garden. Help!

  1. Sally's Trove profile image100
    Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago

    Do you have any experience with your tomato plants being devoured starting about 12 inches off the ground, and at the same time, any unripened tomatoes being eaten, even if they were 1 inch from the ground? Some marauder came into my garden last night and ate 17 of 19 set tomatoes on one plant. And ate nothing else.

    This is not an insect attack. The critter left droppings which I can't identify. But no foot prints, because the ground is dry and hard as rock for the heat and lack of water we are experiencing here now in the northeast USA.

    We have seen foxes in our community over the last year or so, but no deer. It's not a groundhog, because a groundhog would not be selective; it would have eaten the marigolds, parsley, and flowering plants, too.

    It's been so hot and dry here that a robust tomato plant with 19 set tomatoes, watered every day, would be a refreshing oasis for an animal who is thirsty.

    Meanwhile, since last night's attack (there are more tomato plants in the garden that were not attacked), I've anchored dog hair to the ground around the tomatoes in an attempt to ward off something like a fox or squirrel or skunk (they don't like the smell of dogs), and I've done the Internet research and came up with nothing.


    1. 0
      Home Girlposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Buy a cat and a dog. If it is a small animal, cat will chase it away. If it is a big one, dog will do the job. On the second thought, what if they start chasing each other right on the spot where tomato plants grow?

      1. Sally's Trove profile image100
        Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Done with cats and dogs in my life, but I get your point. If I had the opportunity to turn out a cat or a dog at night, whatever the critter is would be scared away or dead.

        As for the dog and cat chasing each other around, hey! Love that circus. Would love to see it and laugh.

        1. Jim Hunter profile image61
          Jim Hunterposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          You can always put out a live trap and bait it with tomatoes.

      2. sagebrush_mama profile image81
        sagebrush_mamaposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Don't let dogs get near your garden!  Too many incidents to recount all...my dogs tore up a third of my corn, among other things, about a week ago. 

        Not sure what would do that much damage...I get mice and rabbits, but they don't do that kind of damage.

    2. weeyo profile image60
      weeyoposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I've had luck with placing human hair clippings around my garden to keep animals (especially deer) away.  Ask your barber or hairstylist for some clippings and spread around the perimeter of your garden.

      1. Sally's Trove profile image100
        Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Thanks for that. I've got dog hair clippings that I've been using to discourage squirrels from digging in my potted plants, and I'm spreading these clippings around the devastated tomato plant, almost as we speak. Meanwhile, my daughter has taken her cat for his annual clipping and will be bring back dog and cat hair from the groomer to go around the garden. Let's hope for the best.

    3. Lesley D profile image59
      Lesley Dposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Try juicing hot peppers and spraying the fruit and leaves.  I had a pesky possom around, and it seemed to do the trick.

      1. couturepopcafe profile image60
        couturepopcafeposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        This worked for me, too.  Rabbits, possum, racoons.

  2. Flightkeeper profile image79
    Flightkeeperposted 6 years ago

    Do squirrels eat tomatoes? I think they're smart and sneaky enough to do the things that you've written.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I think they are too, but they are not as hungry or thirsty as something else might be. In our neighborhood, we have plenty of bird baths, and plenty of bird feeders, which squirrels have no problem navigating. Also, the pattern of the chomping on the tomato plant is much taller than a squirrel could reach.

      My dad brought home squirrels for dinner. That's the way life was. Could be that he saved a few tomato plants.

      1. Flightkeeper profile image79
        Flightkeeperposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        Well then it probably wasn't squirrels, they might know your dad's eating habits and probably wanted to avoid being dinner instead of having dinner wink

        1. Sally's Trove profile image100
          Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

          I do believe there's a karmic understanding among the elements of life. If my 2K generation squirrels know that my father hunted their ancestors, it doesn't surprise me. And it explains why it's not squirrels doing the damage. Thanks for this insight!

    2. 59
      klatreposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      The best thing to do is put a net or a little fence around your plant.  Get a net that will be strong enough to keep squirrels from tearing into your plant.

  3. Misha profile image75
    Mishaposted 6 years ago

    I would say deer

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      It's been three years since we've seen deer here, and given the chatter in this community, I would have heard of a new arrival. However, you are right in the pattern that was left on this tomato plant. Delicate foraging for the green tomatoes close to the ground, then grazing about half way up the plant to the top. But even in this parched and dry landscape, deer would have left some kind of footprint, or some kind of dropping, neither of which I could find. But I'll tell you this...I am keeping an all-night vigil tonight, with flash light in hand. I can see the tomato plant from my bedroom window, and when something comes foraging, I'll hear it...well...but then...I've got the AC on in this horrible weather...oh shucks.

  4. Me, Steve Walters profile image77
    Me, Steve Waltersposted 6 years ago

    Birds like to stick their beaks into the tomatoes for the water it contains...it is annoying and hard to identify until you catch 'em at it..."Red-beaked"...so to speak. Any possibility this could be the problem?

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I don't think so, Steve. One of the almost-ripe tomatoes was left on the ground, partially eaten, meaning the animal stripped the fruit from the plant first. I don't think a bird could do that, unless it was a hawk or eagle, but they are strictly carnivores.

  5. Jim Hunter profile image61
    Jim Hunterposted 6 years ago

    Raccoon maybe, they are not too picky about what they eat and the little mask around their eyes speaks volumes about their true nature.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      One thing I know for sure is that we have no raccoons here. The homeowner's association has seen to it that no raccoon habitat exists here. Nor one for possums. But I did think about raccoons this morning when I saw the devastation. This is just not their style!

      I agree about the live trap, and my mother suggested I do that. However, I don't know what I'm going to be catching. If it's a squirrel or groundhog (which I've trapped before), that's OK. But if it's a deer (imagine a have-a-heart trap for a deer!) or a fox, I don't want any part of it. Unfortunately, we don't have an animal control department in our township, nor do we have a wildlife rescue that will come out and do this trapping.

      Geeze, I am at such a loss. sad

  6. katiem2 profile image59
    katiem2posted 6 years ago

    Rabbits eat my garden veggies and human hair does work big_smile

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you for that, Katie. Rabbits have devastated my garden in the past, but this year, they are few and far between. And they are definitely not the culprits responsible for the tomato plant that had, until this morning, 19 set tomatoes.

      I agree with you about human hair...I just happen to have more dog hair and will be getting even more from my daughter when she takes her pets for grooming. On the other hand, I need a haircut!

  7. Sally's Trove profile image100
    Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago

    Update...the marauder visited in the early morning hours, just before dawn, and left a quite nice pile of scat. It is fox poo.

    This time, however, he left the tomato plant alone. Last night I had ringed the tomato plants with dog hair, and that seems to have done the trick, at least for this last visit.

    Thanks to all of you for your helpful suggestions and your commiseration!

  8. Louis Taylor profile image60
    Louis Taylorposted 6 years ago

    Finally sorted. So the fox eat the tomatoes, OMG never heard of that! I had squirrels damaging my plants last year but they just pick the fruits and dont eat them.

  9. Pearldiver profile image87
    Pearldiverposted 6 years ago

    A homeless man (described as a banker) was arrested today after being caught in local gardens, acting in a foxy manner around ripe watermelon and tomato plants.

    When interviewed the man claimed that local women had been flaunting their vegetables intentionally during the night in what he believed; was act of seduction.

    The arresting ossifers stated that the man had been seen brushing his tail vigorously against a tomato plant, while rubbing his face between two large melons. "We were amazed," said Ossifer Randy Greenfingers "At first we thought, with all his buzzing; he was pollenating the plants by pretending to be a bee! But then we realised that bees don't get that arroused when they are doing their thing!"

    In an attempt to cover his tracks the homeless banker had 'deposited' fox poop throughout the garden, in the hope that any vegetable 'withdrawals' that he made would balance out, if noticed in the light of day.

    Described as 'a very strange man' the nocturnal visitor, with distinctive cauliflower ears; claimed that unemployment had been responsible for his antics; claiming that he had been attempting to have a warm organic relationship with numerous vegetables since his celery had been frozen. yikes

    1. sunforged profile image67
      sunforgedposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      PD = genius

    2. 0
      ralwusposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Case closed. big_smile big_smile big_smile genius is right.

  10. flogreen profile image61
    flogreenposted 6 years ago

    You can buy these great motion/sound sensors that make a high pitch beeping noise if they or the area around them are disturbed.  That may be a good idea for what you need since pets are out of the question.

  11. AboveBeyond profile image59
    AboveBeyondposted 6 years ago

    Two words CAYENNE PEPPER smile. Sprinkle it around the soil, and plant. No more worries about pesky little critters. Good luck!

  12. flogreen profile image61
    flogreenposted 6 years ago

    I have had deer recently eating the Kale I planted recently and I just bought some coyote urine on a suggestion from a friend.  Anyone have any experience with it?  It came highly recommended though.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Coyote urine is a good repellent for deer, but after any kind of rain, gentle or strong, it has to be re-applied. And that can get expensive. But, yes, it does work.

  13. 59
    patan13posted 6 years ago

    Motion/sound alarm,live trap,bow or rifle,steaks...in that order

  14. TomBlake profile image60
    TomBlakeposted 6 years ago

    Sounds like a deer to me! I tend to have a problem with deer in my garden. Although, I recently discovered deer off to keep the deer away and it's been working well.
    Here's the spray I'm talking about:
    http://www.deeroff.com/advantage. It works by targeting a deer's sense of smell and taste. It’s the only one I've found that targets both.

  15. Diane Inside profile image87
    Diane Insideposted 6 years ago

    could be rabbits. we have rabbits all over the place they like vegitation, and will go for the most savory, it it is dry they will go for tomatoes.

  16. theherbivorehippi profile image83
    theherbivorehippiposted 6 years ago

    I'm in Michigan and we've had problems with possums and tomato plants.  I have dogs so nothing gets in my yard but I know my aunt mixed chile powder and sprayed around her plants and it has worked so far.  Good luck

    1. Pearldiver profile image87
      Pearldiverposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      I'm DownUnder and we've been having problems with Bankers for Years!
      They frequently disguise their efforts this way and tend to play possum when confronted!
      Waste of time trying to defend your tomatoes with dogs....
      Most Bankers have Mutt Genes and therefore are immune to the defensive efforts of Dogs, Tomatoes, Aunties, Chilli powder, sprayed plants and people in need!! hmm
      Good Luck.

      @ Carrie M..... They also do Dirty Rat Impressions. hmm

      1. theherbivorehippi profile image83
        theherbivorehippiposted 6 years ago in reply to this

        lol big_smile

  17. Carrie.M profile image61
    Carrie.Mposted 6 years ago

    Maybe it was a rat! I know, disgusting! I had never heard of rats eating tomatos off the plant before but just 1 week ago I was looking out at our sun deck and low and behold if there wasn't a big dirty rat chewing on a large roma tomato that was days away from being picked. Ugh! I couldn't stand the thought of rat germs over my tomatos that the whole plant went into the compost.

    1. Sally's Trove profile image100
      Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago in reply to this

      Hate to tell you this, Carrie, but if you saw a rat eating a lone tomato, then there are many more rats roaming your plantings. I don't know where you live, but I'd be inclined to move out or get very serious about finding the source of the problem. One thing's for sure, we have no rats here. smile

  18. Sally's Trove profile image100
    Sally's Troveposted 6 years ago

    It definitely was a fox, folks. Mystery resolved. The fox disappeared from the neighborhood, and my tomato plant destruction ended. (Unfortunately, the tomatoes have since succumbed to fungus and blossom endrot...NOT a good year for tomatoes!)

    Upon reading your homeless banker suggestion, I had to give it some serious thought. The surrounding neighborhoods are congested with McManses bought in better times by a bunch of bankers and financial analysts. These are now hard times for them. Although their McManses have thousands of internal square feet of space, they have only enough outdoor grounds to support a garage and driveway access for three or four Mercedes, Rovers, or Porsches. Besides, a garden can get kind of messy looking, so they opt for rare foundation plantings, which they cannot eat.

    However, since I don't plant watermelons (or cantelopes), I figure the tomato plant was not appealing enough on its own. And although there were new plantings of fresh parsley in the area, they were not damaged, suggesting that there was no need for a replacement of the frozen celery.

    I should have set my Hub up with a prize for the most creative answer, because that prize would have been yours. For now, you'll have to settle for

    lol lol lol lol and smile

  19. mega1 profile image79
    mega1posted 6 years ago

    rats - I finally gave up on veggie growing and now just have flowers because the rats were eating tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, the tops of the beets, everything.  You can set traps or put out poison - we have dogs here so I couldn't do that.

  20. psycheskinner profile image83
    psycheskinnerposted 6 years ago

    If it is a small critter (rat, rabbit, squirrel etc) a little chilli powder will stop it.

  21. Urban Farm Girl profile image81
    Urban Farm Girlposted 6 years ago

    I used to have deers eating my tomatoes. That stopped after I put in a taller fence. Now I see the squirrels eating some ripe tomatoes. They didn't bother the tomatoes until they became ripe. I have more than I can eat, so I don't really care.

    Yes, you can make a hot chili solution (cayenne or habanero) and spray it around your tomato plants. That would deter the critters away. 

    One of these days, I'd like to get a dog. When my malamute was around, no animal or people would sneak into the yard.

    1. ShadowCleaning profile image61
      ShadowCleaningposted 5 years ago

      The cheapest and easiest way to discourage animals from eating your veggies: hot sauce. Take some hot sauce (I use habenero) and put in spray bottle with some water and spray your plants. Just remember to rinse them off before you eat them. Bug problems? Use dawn dish detergent.