What is eating holes in my tomatoes? Tomatoes are arguably the most grown vegetable in the garden, but they are also the most attacked.

Pests Responsible of Eating Holes in Tomatoes

Hornworms, fruit worms, flea beetles, and animals chew holes in tomatoes, so if you see your tomato fruits with holes, know that a pest is an architect.

This is one of our latest posts that discusses tomato pests and how to prevent them, so keep reading, and you will know how to spot them and stop them.

List of Pests that Eat Holes in Your Tomatoes

1. Tomato Blister Beetles

Blister beetles are common garden pests that love tomato plants and would easily cause serious damage if undetected. Recognized by their black and orange colors, these pets contain a substance known as Cantharidin that destroy plant tissues.

– Characteristics

When they cling to your tomato, they release this substance to break down the intestinal wall to enable them to penetrate the fruit. This compound is toxic to the human skin, so one must be careful when crushing these insects. They can cause blisters and other skin inflammations.

It is difficult to identify blister beetles because they come in varying species. There are over 250 of its kind in various colors in North America, particularly in the Midwest and Southern parts of the United States.

Blister Beetles are Beetles of the Family

However, some body parts are similar—they have soft and flexible wing covers and a narrow body. Like most insects, they undergo a complete life cycle.

– Control Method

Blister beetles can be controlled with row covers or planting crops that attract birds to eat them. If you are dealing with only a few, handpick them with protected hands.

However, it is very important that you do not crush these blister beetles with your hands because they can cause skin irritation from the liquid that they release. They release cantharidin, a volatile organic compound, which is terrible for the skin. Basically, it is best that you make sure you wear gloves when handpicking them.

2. Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs aren’t insects, but they eat tomato plants too. Therefore, they could be the culprit if you see small holes in your tomatoes. Snails and slugs are common tomato pests that eat holes through a slime—a combination of some digestive enzymes, saliva, and mucus.

– Characteristics

This slime dissolves the cell walls of tomatoes, paving the way for snails and slugs to eat them. A tell-sign of snails and slugs in your tomato garden is the slime they emit.

They are night workers and do the most damage nearer the ground. They are attracted to moisture in the soil, so watering can draw them closer to your tomatoes. Slugs and snails are differentiated by their bodies, however, the slugs’ characteristic is that they have small, snake-like bodies, while snails are slugs with shells.

Slug eats Tomato in the Bush

– Control Method

The most efficient method to control snails and slugs is copper tape, this tape is placed around the stem of tomato plants, slightly above the soil, so that it would be secure in catching them in various locations.

However, remember that you should tie the tape around the stem with a wire and then conceal it under the soil so that the tape won’t touch the tomato fruit. This is a regular gardener product you can purchase from most garden stores.

Another alternative is to place iron slug pellets rich in phosphate on the leaves and around the plants’ base. These pellets tear off their skins as they move their bodies through them and cause dehydration, and eventually, you will see them dead. Moreover, you can also control them by watering them in the morning hours so that the soil stays dry at night.

3. Colorado Potato Beetles

Colorado potato beetles are known for eating potato leaves, but they are also attracted to tomatoes and other vegetables like eggplants. Widespread in North America, these plants are characterized by their peculiar shell that has several yellow and black stripes.

– Characteristics

Their larvae are the most devastating. They eat tomato leaves, with only the veins and petioles left. Damages like this are a tell-sign that your tomato plant is attacked by a Colorado potato beetle.

The Bright Blue of Blue Eyed Grass

– Control Method

The larvae are difficult to see, but If spotted, you can handpick them, as you would be doing so, you will save your plant even if it loses most of its leaves, because they won’t be harming the plant anymore.

You just have to detect the presence of this insect early. They overwinter in the soil, so avoid growing tomatoes in that soil the subsequent year if there was an infestation. Since they love potatoes, you can grow them as trap plants. Birds and ladybugs will be happy to eat them, and they won’t be damaging any of your tomatoes on the contrary, getting the job done for you.

4. Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are one of the commonest plant pests. These destructive tomato pests are characterized by their long proboscis and hawkmoth size. They stick to the background of green leaves, and bore holes in them, before making their way into the fruits. These caterpillars are prominent in North America and Australia, but you can see some species in South America.

– Characteristics

Hornworms eat constantly and are capable of defoliating a tomato plant completely, they start from a hole and end up devouring the whole fruit. They are difficult to identify when small because they can camouflage against the tomato leaves.

As they enlarge, they become easier to pinpoint. A sign that you have hornworms in your plant is if you don’t see any leaves in a branch. This usually happens in the morning.

Hornworm Eating Garden Tomato Plants

– Control Method

You can get rid of hornworms by handpicking them. Ensure you wear gloves while doing this if you feel nauseous. Roosters also love eating hornworms, so you can feed the handpicked insects to them.

You may also, dissolve them in soapy water, which is a solution that they would come towards and then draw into it. Moreover, another option would be to grow plants like basil and marigolds to repel hornworms because they would revolt from the smell of the chemicals that these greens would release.

On the other hand, if you want a faster solution you can always spray them with some Bacillus Thuringiensis solution in order to control tomato hornworms by killing them.

5. Skunks and Rats

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether rats and skunks eat tomatoes. Unfortunately, they do. These nocturnal animals love to eat tomato plants and chew the leaves.

– Characteristics

Skunks are less destructive than rats, as they only eat a piece of tomato. However, both destroy the foliage, and as a result, your tomato plants will be eaten, as first they take a little bite and create a hole.

Rat Enjoying Eating Cherry Tomatoes

In addition, you would even spot them in the early morning when you see their paw print on the ground.

– Control Method

You can control these organic pests by placing predators like cats around your tomato plants. An alternative solution is to build an electric fence around the garden.

6. Tomato Fruitworms

Tomato fruitworms or corn earworms are dangerous tomato pests as their name identifies them directly. Not only do they affect tomato plants, but they attack companion plants like pepper as well.

– Characteristics

They are known for their light brown color and green tint. The adult fruit worm lay white eggs on the underside of the leaves nearest to the fruit.

When they hatch, the larvae boreholes in the fruit and begin to eat it from the inside, they would start as tiny holes, and then as they get inside, they would all hatch and eat the tomato from the inside.

A Single Tomato Fruitworms Busy Eating

They then move to eat tomato leaves, and as a result, the fruit starts to decay as soon as these holes are created. Once the larva is in, it eats the tomato from the inside, leaving the juice.

– Control Method

Because the larvae are difficult to identify on the fruit, the best way to avoid them from hatching is to pick up the eggs as soon as you see them.

Pest control methods, such as introducing natural predators like wasps to eat the fruitworm can also help. However, you must make sure that you destroy all the fruitworms to prevent them from laying eggs. Sprays with Bacillus Thuringiensis can also be used to control tomato fruit worms by killing them.

7. Aphids

Aphids can cause tomato leaves to curl and have stunted growth. Known for their small soft body, aphids would be the ones to suck content from plants like tomatoes, leaving a gap in the fruit in the process through the flesh and into it. They usually appear in green, nude, or black.

Aphids on a Spirea Bush

– Control Method

You can get rid of aphids by applying insecticidal soap or water, which they would have drawn in and die. Alternatively, spray your plants with white vinegar solution every two days until the aphids are gone.

8. Stink Bugs

Stink bugs give off an unpleasant odor when crushed and they possess a powerful stink. Also known as shield bugs, these insects eat tomatoes by creating holes in the fruit.

– Characteristics

A six-legged insect with a grayish, shield-like body, stink bugs have two antennae, which they use to poke holes in tomatoes. Through the space, they suck the juice from your fruit. They are bigger than spider mites.

Stink Bug Crawling on a Tomato Vine

At first, the holes are small, but they grow bigger over time, the reason behind this is that the plant bugs have gotten a lot deeper into the fruit. Once they are this deep, it is almost impossible to get rid of them, because the whole fruit is damaged. One way to know the presence of this insect is the yellow discoloration around each hole.

– Control Method

You should be on the lookout for stink bugs and eliminate them as soon as you can before they bore deeper holes. The best way to get rid of them is to use insect spray.

On another note, you can always handpick them or use water to flush them from your tomatoes. Planting marigolds is another alternative. These plants will harbor parasitic wasps that will attack stink bugs’ eggs, preventing them from multiplying.

9. Cutworms

Cutworms can also eat holes in your tomato plants. Also known as Tomato loopers, cutworms bore into the stem of tomato plants and eat them from the inside.

– Characteristics

These are not insects literally but the larva of butterflies. They come in different colors, such as black and spotted, which makes them actually easy to be seen, as they are also somewhat like snails and slugs, cutworms that are working at night. They prefer to attack young pests and would be eating their way till they get to the fruit.

Cutworm Beautifully Bent on a Stem Plants

– Control Method

The best method is to handpick them if identified. You can use insecticidal soap to deter them from attacking your tomato plants.

However, you can also introduce parasitic wasps to control them or a tomato collar to keep cutworms from climbing up. A tomato collar is a strong, round cutout placed tightly around the base of tomato plants.

10. Birds

Wild birds, such as sparrows, can cause damage to your tomato plants. They leave holes in your tasty tomatoes with their beak, which they use to extract the juice.

If birds can’t find a suitable food source, your garden will be the next target, and your tomato plants will be the victim, especially the tomatoes. Birds eat ripened and unripened tomatoes, so you need to be wary of them.

Bird Enjoying Eating a Tomato for Lunch

– Control Method

You can control birds by distracting them, you can always offer them food and water sources so that they can avoid eating your tomato plants. You have to be tactical about the placement. Keep them away from your tomato field as far as you can.

Another alternative is to use a scarecrow because remember that anything that would look out of the ordinary or a suspect will scare birds away from your tomatoes, as a result, they will always fear that someone is watching them.

Moreover, you can also build cages around your tomatoes to protect them. Building wire mesh over the tomatoes will also help, as it will deny the birds access to your precious fruits.

11. Chipmunks

Chipmunks are rodents of the genus Tamias, native to North America. Note that they are attracted to ripe tomatoes. The sweet taste of these fruits can draw them to your garden, and could eat all your tomatoes if not careful. Unlike others that make holes, chipmunks can eat the entire fruit.

Chipmunk Eating Variety of Vegetables

– Control Method

You can stop chipmunks by placing a wire mesh over your tomatoes. You can also build cages around the tomatoes to deny them access. Another method is to spray neem oil on the leaves to deter them from feasting on your fruits.

12. Squirrels

Squirrels are similar to chipmunks and cause as much damage. These notorious animals can easily access your garden to eat tomatoes and the fruits they find. Unlike chipmunks, they can leap over mesh fences, so you need to be more tactical when dealing with this rodent because they are fast.

Squirrel Eating Fresh Unripe Tomato

– Control Method

It’s recommended you use a combination of cages and a bird net to stop their invasion. You can also place some CDs around the garden to create a reflection that will scare them away, and they will fear from the sudden movements.

13. Rabbits

Rabbits love munching carrots as they do tomatoes. The interesting part is these animals will find their way into your garden even with a mesh cage. This is because they can burrow deep into the soil and are good at creating tunnels.

Rabbit Nibbling on a Ripe Tomato

– Control Method

The best way to keep rabbits from your tomatoes is to build a fence around the entire area. It should be dug deep to at least a foot. Alternatively, build an electric fence around the garden to deter them from coming the next time, it wouldn’t kill them, it will just stimulate for a second.


What is eating holes in my tomatoes? Here are the pests that cause damage to your tomato plants. These pests are dangerous and a swarm of them can wipe out your tomato field. If you have tomatoes planted in your garden, note the following;

  • Not only insects eat tomatoes, animals like birds, rodents, and snails can be culprits.
  • Animals that eat tomatoes are nocturnal and are drawn by moist soils, so be wary of watering at night.
  • Rotten tomatoes or those with holes in them shouldn’t be eaten, as they might contain poison.
  • Handpicking and organic pest controls can prevent insects from attacking your precious tomato garden.

It is essential to investigate the pests that eat holes in your tomatoes to enable you to develop a defense mechanism. Doing this guarantees a plentiful tomato garden.


  • https://blackhillsgarden.com/what-is-eating-my-tomatoes/
  • https://plantophiles.com/gardening/what-is-eating-holes-in-my-tomatoes/
  • https://naturallist.com/what-is-eating-holes-in-my-tomatoes/
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