Lizards eating tomatoes?

kstrittmaterMay 1, 2008

After several failed attempts, I've finally gotten tomatoes to grow here in the desert (Scottsdale, AZ) by using a raised bed. The tomatoes are beginning to turn red, and I'll be darned if one by one they aren't being damaged! Each morning I find one tomato with a 1/2" wide hole that is about 1/2" deep -- just enough to ruin the tomato!

I suspect that lizards are doing it. I don't have rabbits (fenced yard); they don't look like bird holes; and I'm fairly certain that it isn't insects because it is just one a day. Today I actually caught a lizard sunning in the raised bed. Does anybody know if lizards eat tomatoes? And, if so, is the best solution to put netting around it?



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Lizards don't eat tomatoes, I'd put my money on birds. They are notorious for ruining tomatoes and can sneak in and out while your back is turned!


    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 12:57AM
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garyaz(z9 AZ)

I agree with Kevin, lizards have no interest in your tomatoes, other than for shade. Insects, birds, and squirrels all love to mess with the maters though. You could always cover them with shade cloth to protect from both harsh sunlight and critters.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 2:59PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Rats will eat tomatoes; they love them. We have some pet rats and I give them tomato trimmings. If you have roof rats or other wild rats in your neighborhood, they may be the culprit.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2008 at 9:07PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

Rats are a definite possibility. If you have "lizards" that you have seen eating them they what you really have is iguanas. Third possibility is rolly-polly bugs or pill bugs. They usually get tomatoes that are touching the soil.
Put a little brown paper bag around them. If something tears through the beg, it's rats.
For rats, use traps with vanilla, dates, and peanut butter for bait. Or get more cats.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 9:17PM
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OK, here it is 6 years later and I have the same problem. The followup postings all missed the point that the tomatoes are NOT being eaten, only bitten, like something is testing to see if they like it. I had this problem last year with tomatoes in a small raised planter, thought it was birds, so I enclosed them with bird netting and the problem went away. This year I built a walk-in enclosure with 1" chicken wire and have the same problem. Its not birds. Don't know if lizards would bite them or not. We had a mouse in the garage when it was cold, so they're around. That's my best bet. Has anyone figured it out??

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 10:17AM
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wood pecker . . . likely doing it more for the moisture than the food. Put in a bird friendly fountain and see if the problem goes away. Small netting. I was rather surprised at the success of a fairly fine plastic mesh net stretched over my garden bed.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 11:59AM
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don't think its birds, tho I do have occasional woodpecker. I don't think they would come thru the 1" chicken wire and damage is usually on interior bushy side of plant, and doesn't look like beak damage, more like bite or claw marks. Planning on putting in a bird/bee watering hole, so I'll see what happens. Also may put a mouse trap and video cam out there and see if I can catch something.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 12:35PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Had this same problem a few years ago - "bite" marks from the bottom side of tomatoes that were close to, but not touching, the ground. Never did figure it out for sure, however I found that if I wrapped the tomatoes in old pantyhose scraps that nothing could get to them! It was a real pain but the most effective tomato protector strategy I ever used!

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 3:51PM
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It has to be mice or rats. I found a big ol kangaroo rat that was eating all of my pumpkin blossoms before they were pollinated, I had issues with rabbits but buried wire fencing at all entry points to the yard and that did the trick with them, then I saw a squirrel tear out of there one day but I didn't think it was doing the damage, then I saw that kangaroo rat or whatever it was and that was the culprit, I got a couple traps but they only caught birds, so I just started leaving food out for my neighbors cat and with him patrolling every now and then I haven't had anymore issues.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2014 at 9:36PM
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I had that happen and it was ground squirrels. They came from an open field about 1/4 of a mile away. Climbed over the block wall and into the yard. My husband got rid of them.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 12:06PM
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I have the same problem here in Southwest Arizona, La Paz county 100 miles west of Phoenix. Whatever it is is also eating the young tomato plants, brocolli, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. They don't eat the leaves, they are left lying on the ground, only the stem of the plants. I was thinking lizards but the smaller ones I have seen eating moths and bugs and the big white/light colored ones I haven't seen this year. There were a lot of them last summer and I caught one on top of a kale plant munching away to his heart's content. I have chicken wire to keep out the rabbits so that rules them out. It also takes place at night so birds are not likely. The ground squirrel connection could be it. I have seen them in the yard even and I never considered them as the culprit. I used to have 2 cats which probably kept them out of the yard. I hate to poison things but I hate to keep losing my plants. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:29AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Almost all Arizona lizards are carnivores. They don't eat tomatoes.

ground squirrels, rabbits, rats, birds and bugs would be the culprit not lizards.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 5:10PM
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makeupartistaz(9, Cave Creek, AZ.)

Hi Kris,
I am new to AZ. but am an experienced gardener. I now live in Cave Creek above Scottsdale. I have only been here 1 year. I have put in a completely covered 12x24 garden. Something is eating on my very few tomatoes that the plants produced. Can't be birds or rabbits as it is enclosed completely. I am from KY where I gave away bags of tomatoes! My tomatoes I put in the ground here Feb. 1 are not producing much! I would love to hear from you how you are doing well with tomatoes! I start a lot of plants from seed and that works but not much produce! Please write me and let me know what finally worked for you? Also anyone else in AZ. with some advice on tomatoes!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 6:27PM
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OK I was wrong. My problem was birds. I thought it must be mice. Since I enclosed the garden with 1" chicken wire I thought the birds couldn't get at the tomatoes, believing that Mockingbirds were the main crop destroyer because they annually strip my grapes. I finally put up a surveillance camera and discovered the little finches ??? that hang around eating the tomatoes. I covered the enclosure with the finer plastic bird netting and hopefully it will keep them out.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2014 at 2:22AM
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Cheryl Ter Haar

OK are you sure it's birds because I was betting money that the lizards were paying everyone off....I came on the site because I have the same problem!!! I still can't believe that birds are getting through the netting, I did the same thing last year and it keeps happening.

    Bookmark   on Sunday at 7:08PM
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Birds. Watched 'em doing it. Gave them water. They (mostly) stopped doing it.

    Bookmark   on Sunday at 10:51PM
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