Currently viewing the tag: "Tomato Bugs"

I’ve grown tomatoes for years, and recently moved. When I go out to my garden, EVERYTIME a tomato starts to turn red, something eats a hole in it. I thought it was worms, but I have sprayed for them twice, with no results. Today when I went out, one of the tomatoes had split at the top (due to the weather), and there were little bugs with wings inside them, they had red heads. Is that what keeps eating my red tomatoes?? Please help me, I’m loosing my mind. Whatever it is, it only eats a hole the size of a half dollar, then moves on to the next, and doesn’t seem to be bothering anything else in my garden. Thank you soooo very much, hopefully you have an answer for me.

Hi Kristi,
I suspect birds. I have mockingbirds that frequently nibble my ripe tomatoes. Also squirrels. I have taken to draping the plants with tulle, or netting, when the tomatoes begin to ripen. Tomato bugs, or tomato horn worms, occasionally nibble the tomatoes, but usually the green ones. They also defoliate the plants, and you should be able to find them because of their droppings. Good luck.

OMG,,,,,,, i never thought of that!! We do have mocking birds living next door. We watch them attack the neighborhood cats. Funny that the tomato’s usually only have holes toward the bottom of the plant. Maybe because the birds are short?? What can i cover them with so they can’t get through? I’m afraid they can get their beady little beaks through the netting??? Thank you soooooo much for your advice. You have no idea how much this helps me!!

Hi Kristi,
Some garden shops sell a black or green netting that is more durable than tulle. I got it at Home Depot. I haven’t had a problem with the tulle. The netting at the garden shop has a stronger weave with larger holes, and it can be reused from year to year. Remember, everyone loves tomatoes, even birds and small mammals. The position of the holes probably has something to do with where the birds perch while eating.

You are awesome,,, Thank you so very much for taking time out of your busy day to help others. I think that is wonderful!!! May God bless you richly. 🙂

I just finished reading your letter about the evil “tomato bugs”. On a 3 day weekend last year 4 of the nasty guys destroyed 3 of my tomato plants. I DO NOT want this to happen again. I was wondering what they look like when they are just starting out their reign of terror. I have only ever seen pictures of them when they were about 3 inches long. Also where do they come from, and is there a way of preventing their arival at all?

Dear Stephanie,
I’m sorry for the delay in this reply. Somehow, your letter got lost in cyberspace. “Tomato bugs” are the larval stage of a sphinx moth, Manduca sexta. They begin life as eggs and hatch into tiny caterpillars about 1/4 inch long. They are green, and their coloration combined with their lighter traverse markings help them to blend into the foliage of the tomato plants they feed upon. Look for them on the undersides of the leaves where they prefer to hang. Often the first evidence that there is a tomato hornworm is the presence of their telltale droppings along with nibbled leaves. They eat the soft portion of the leaf, leaving only the stems behind. Diligence is your best defence. Spend time with your plants, especially when they are young, and search for evidence of grazing hornworms daily.

I am new to growing tomatoes, and am currently having mixed results. I live in the DFW area and planted the young plants about 4 weeks ago (middle of April). They have been growing well, but there is a slight mystery. One of the plants (an heirloom variety) has leaves that are looking scrunched up. Almost as if they have been lightly squashed in hand. Another plant is having trouble keeping its flowers. Flowers show in nice little yellow clumps, and then all of a sudden they are broken off – almost like they are cut or bitten through leaving a kind of stumpy growth. I would love to know what is doing that and what to do about it.
Thanks in advance
Christopher Bird
PS Please don’t publicize the email address, I have been spam free for 3 years! Thanks

Dear Christopher,
Heirloom varieties often have potato type leaves. This is no indication that the plants are unhealthy. Blossoms will not set fruit until the nighttime temperatures are warm. Don’t fret.