Something is eating/gutting my tomatoes

jnineazMay 19, 2011

Argh. I finally have tomatoes growing after many years of trying. A day or two after they turn red, something starts to eat them. I'm thinking birds. They are about a foot to two feet off the ground with tomato cages around them. The creature that is eating them is basically gutting out the inside of the tomato and leaving most of the outside/skin.

Any suggestions on what to use to keep creatures from eating my tomatoes? They aren't eating the green ones...just the perfect red ripe ones. :( Thanks!

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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Hi Jnineaz,

I've had this happen and finally discovered the culprit. It was a gila woodpecker. You can try bird netting, or some have suggested hanging a few old CDs around. The reflection from the CDs supposedly scares them away. There is reflective tape you can also buy. My tomatoes haven't started to ripen yet but as they start to turn I plan on hanging some blank CDs from a nearby tree.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 4:18PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

I agree! Argh! Same problem for me and it's soooo aggravating after watching those green tomatoes ripen. Mockingbirds are my tomato destroyers, and I've had success with two methods: wrap strips of pantyhose around the tomato before it starts to ripen, and covering the plants with old bedsheets. The pantyhose remedy is a little time intensive but it sure works, and old white sheets let through enough sunlight for the plants - just not very attractive. I'd taken the sheets off my plants when we got the rain sprinkles the other day, and then the next morning watched a mockingbird feast on a beautiful red tomato. Sigh.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:57AM
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Various birds ... my knon culprits are curve-billed thrashers.

They rip them open and drink the juice. I found that leaving the damaged one on the vine meant they would come back to it for several days for more juice.

I now have a bird watering dish out there for them so they don't need to drink tomato juice.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 1:07PM
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The lady at the nursery this morning said that the birds will peck a hole in fruit (any fruit, but was talking about tomatoes, and I've had it happen with my oranges too) to attract the bugs to the juice. Then they come back for the bugs. Ingenious, but I wish they'd do it to someone else's tomatoes! That does explain why they don't just eat the entire tomato....

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 7:25PM
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So far the birds are stupid where I live. They only go after my fig trees.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 7:50PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Maybe your birds are colorblind!

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 10:59PM
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My birds strip my mulberry tree, I never get a single berry. I love berries but the tree is so tall now I can't net it.
Thinking about starting a cutting to get a smaller tree. This is a volunteer but sure has good berries!
I had a volunteer in OK but it grew more bush-like so was easier to net and pick.
I also caught a pill-worm red-handed eating a hole in my chard the other day. I was wondering what was eating big holes in my chard! I have tons of the little "armadillos" and I need to order some sluggo for them online since nobody local seems to carry it. They decimated my Lima beans this year, too.
The only critter that seems to doing any damage to my tomatoes besides the always present low level of aphids is ants. I have a purple Russian which cracks badly and ants are going after the cracks.
I did have a couple of holes in some sprawling tomatoes on the ground. Either birds or pill worms.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 2:34PM
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