What is eating my tomato plant stems, is a very detailed question that you could be asking because of seeing this happen numerous times, and have had enough of it.
You have come to the right article as we have written the most common pests that are in your garden, eating your tomato plant stems.
Well, these pests may be disastrous, but they will surely be easy to control as there are also useful pest control tips in the article.
- What Is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems?
- How To Prevent Tomato Stems Being Eaten?
What Is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems?
The common tomato pests that would be eating the stems of the plant would be beetles, moths, cutworms, rabbits, moth caterpillars, stink bugs, horn worms, spider mites. In addition, they might even be stem borers, voles, stalk borers, and even tarnished plant bugs.
Beetles such as colorado potato beetles, flea beetles, and blister beetles are common pests of tomato plants, they would be the ones to eat the stem of the potato. Flea beetles eat tomato plants’ leaves, but they lay their eggs on the ground or even close to the stems.
In addition, when the larvae hatch, they crawl through it and eat the tomato stem. Keep in mind that beetles enjoy eating tomato plants, and they are easy to identify from the bite and by spotting them.
Beetles are flying insects, but they do not fly as often, and you would most likely find them on the upper leaves in the morning. These insects create holes both in the stem and leaves, so you do not want them near your plants, but this aspect is simple to spot.
Moths themselves are not the problem because they do not eat tomato stems or leaves. However, their larvae are very disastrous as they can eat every part of the tomato plant, especially the stems and leaves, because it’s nutritious for them. Moths such as corn earworms prefer tomato plants and when they want to lay their eggs, they search for tomato plants.
Moths such as tomato hornworms also target tomato plants skinny stems as their larvae love to eat the stems and leaves above. You can tell that there are caterpillars on your tomato plants as they are not hidden. You will see them on the plant at all times of the day. These caterpillars have so many pairs of legs and create deep straight holes in the tomato leaves and stems.
– Spider Mites
Spider mites look like ticks on tomato plants, in addition, they produce webs with silk and stay on the undersides of the leaves of the plants. They feed on your tomatoes by puncturing the cells of the stems and leaves, sucking the juices off the plant. Spider mites are common pests of tomatoes that you do not want near your plants.
These bugs are red, so you can easily identify them. If they are white, your plants are suffering from a whitefly infestation.
– Rats and Voles
If you are asking “what is eating my tomatoes at night?” here you go. These are rodents that you do not want anywhere near your garden. Rats will pass through little holes in the fence to reach your tomatoes and if they cannot find the sweet fruits, they will bite the stems. The bite marks of rats on tomato stems are little and are mostly around the lower parts of the stems.
The reason why they would come during the nighttime is that they wouldn’t want to be caught in any way. Hence, they would happily reach the stems in the evening when you aren’t there.
Voles resemble rats, and you can describe them as cute, but they cause more damage to plants than rats. Voles pass through under the ground to reach the tomato plants, and they can destroy the roots and stems. If the bite marks of your tomatoes are found in both the stem and roots, you may be dealing with these pests. The teeth marks would be visible and obvious to the naked eye.
– Stem or Stalk Borer
Stem borers are some pests that may get you confused. While the damage caused by these insects is severe, you mostly cannot find them nor easily tell why your tomato plants are dying. The “stem borer tomato” pests would lay their eggs on the surface of your tomato plants and then their larvae dig into the stem, collecting juices and nutrients from the stems.
If your tomatoes are dying, and you do not know why, check the stem of the dead ones if they have lengthy unusual holes inside.
Tomato Cutworms are larvae that you do not want near your tomatoes. These larvae are the most common pests of tomato plants, especially at night. these click beetles with larvae called wire worms are popular examples of cutworms that attack tomato plants and especially the stem of the plant.
Cutworms can eat every part of the tomato plant from the roots up to the leaves as they do not stop eating. During the day, they mostly bury themselves in the soil around your tomatoes, so you cannot find them. To find cutworms, you may need to monitor the root region of your tomatoes, especially in the evening during sunset, meaning before it’s pitch black.
– Stink Bugs
These plant bugs cause minor damage to the stem and leaves of your tomatoes and other plants in your garden. They are mostly brown or gray, and you can find them on the leaves of your tomatoes, mostly in the morning or noon. The brown, black, or yellow bugs on tomato plants only eat the tomato plants and do not transmit any disease to them.
Rabbits are beautiful mammalian pests that can eat the fruits and stems of your tomatoes. However, they usually run away from the leaves and do not eat too much of the stem due to toxicity. Rabbits pass through the fence of your garden, especially when there are holes in it.
Rabbits poop a lot, so you can tell that they entered your garden if you see their poop on the ground. They would visit your garden at any time, so you should be watchful. Don’t worry, they are very easy to prevent from reaching your plants.
– Tarnished Plant Bugs
These are piercing-sucking insects that suck the juices off your tomatoes. They can collect juices from the leaves and stems of your plants and weaken the plants. While the insects do not cause major damage to your tomatoes, if their population is much, they can kill the plants.
How To Prevent Tomato Stems Being Eaten?
You can prevent tomato stems being eaten by protecting them with cardboard rolls, you can have farm birds around, use diatomaceous organic pest repellent, install row covers, pick the pests, install a security fence, and even make a homemade organic pesticide.
– Protect the Stem With Cardboard Rolls
Toilet paper tubes or other cardboard-like rolls are great products to use to protect the bottom parts of your tomato stems from harmful pests like cutworms. You can make use of these products for pests that attack the plants from the ground. All you must do is to cut open the tube and place it around the stem.
To be sure that cutworms and other pests from the soil do not reach the tomato plants, you should dig the soil around the roots carefully and then keep the tube in the dug soil. You may need to replace the tube with a new one every three or four days. You can even do the same with plastic rolls as another option.
– Have Farm Birds
Farm birds such as chickens, ducks, pheasants, and turkeys are very important in your tomato garden because they help to search for and control the pest population in the garden. These birds will eat cutworms, moths, beetles, and other pests that are disturbing the stems of your tomato plants.
Asides from controlling the pest population in your garden, farm birds also help enrich your garden with their nutrient-rich droppings. Well, the con of introducing them into the garden is that they might scratch the roots of your crops and even peck on developing fruits and flowers. Please make sure that you monitor the birds whenever they are in your garden.
– Make Use of Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a very essential pest-repellent product that you should buy for your tomato garden. It keeps tomatoes and other plants safe from pests for a very long time and it is safe for the plants so long as you do not use too much. You must be keen on purchasing it from a reputable gardening store and spread it around the tomato plants.
You can spread this product around your garden fence to prevent pests from entering the garden through the fence. Note that you should not turn it into the soil around the tomato roots so that you do not expose the roots to toxic chemicals.
– Install Row Covers
To prevent flea beetles, cutworms, and other pests in the soil from reaching your tomato plants, you may opt to install row covers before you start the plants or transfer their seedlings into your garden. The row covers do not just prevent pests from reaching your tomatoes, they also prevent weeds from competing with the tomatoes.
Row covers are only temporary solutions to your tomato pest problems, as they may get torn and the pests are still in the soil. Overall, you need to explore other long-lasting solutions like using pesticides or calling pest control agents.
– Pick and Dispose of the Pests
If the pests are beetles, caterpillars, and others that you can pick up without fear, please do so and dispose of them. Whenever you are monitoring your plants, ensure that you remove all the pests that you see. The best times to search for pests on your tomato plants are early in the morning to see nocturnal pests and at noon for diurnal pests.
What should you do with the pests? Well, it is up to you, but if you do not kill them or take them as far away from your tomato garden as possible, they will return to cause more damage to the tomatoes.
– Install a Secured Fence
A secured fence is helpful to prevent deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other mammalian pests from reaching your tomato plants. For mammalian pests, you can make use of wooden pests. However, consider using a wire mesh fence or growing the plants under clear tarps for smaller pests such as moths and gastropods.
Note that pests like squirrels and rabbits will search for and pass through holes in the fence, so you must ensure that you check your fence regularly and block every new hole that you can find. Additionally, you can make sure that the fence is placed a few inches into the soil to prevent voles and other soil-digging mammals from reaching the tomatoes.
– Make Homemade Organic Pesticides
You can repel pests from your tomato garden by using homemade pesticides, especially if the garden is not so big. For example, you can make use of the oil extracted from neem seeds to repel flying pests from the leaves of tomato plants, as this is one of the organic pest control methods. You can also use pepper to repel deer and other mammalian pests.
The best organic product to use depends on the type of pest in your garden, so you must first identify the pest. Also, it would help if you ask other local gardeners in your area for good suggestions on ways to repel the pests in your garden.
Now you can keep your tomato plant stems free from pests as you now know the culprits as well as ways to control them.
Please remember the following:
- The vertebrate pests attacking your tomato stems that you should watch out for are rabbits, voles, and rats.
- The invertebrate pests in your tomato garden that attack the plant’s stems are beetles, moths, stem borers, and others.
- Temporal ways to keep pests from your tomato plants are by using row covers and toilet paper tubs.
- Buy and employ farm birds to help keep your tomatoes free from pests.
- If you cannot see the pest attacking your tomato plants, check the stems for stem borers.
As you can see, it is easy to keep your tomatoes free from pests. Remember to make use of all the tips in this article so that growing tomatoes with sweet and healthy fruits will be super easy for you.
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