How is this possible? Plant gone in one day?

midwesterndirtJune 19, 2012

I came home from work today and found one of by biggest tomato plants completely chopped off halfway up the stem. Whatever did this did it in less than a day because it was fine last night and seemed okay from a distance this morning. Can a hornworm really destroy a tomato plant that fast? What else could do this?

Most of the other plants were fine, but my next two biggest had the ends of some branches chopped off, which I believe is a trademark of the hornworm. I have not found any of the suckers and I've been looking for like an hour.

What really gets me going is I have some plants I bought and some I grew from seed. OF COURSE the one that was destroyed was the BIGGEST one I grew from seed by far. This is a devastating blow to my potential harvest but it's only going to get worse if I don't find a way to stop it.

Sorry, my phone takes terrible pictures in the daylight.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Do you have deer in your area?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:46PM
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I've never seen one, but maybe? I live in a semi-urban neighborhood. There is only about three feet between the plants and my backyard fence. Could a deer really fit in there and eat a whole tomato plant in a day? Today I woke up and found the rest of the stem completely eaten to the ground. I am stunned. Today is going to be the hottest day of the year and I may be forced to put a fence up. I can't imagine what would do such a thing. My other neighbors don't have this problem, but their yards are completely fenced in and mine is open via driveway.

I thought maybe a rabbit or raccoon could be doing it for water since it was so hot, but I put a fresh bowl out last night and it does not appear to have been touched. I'm afraid that my garden will be destroyed in a week. :-(

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 8:43AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

I would put my money on deer OR squirrels - the rats that will destroy anything. I lost lots of corn stalks in 2010 and could not determine what in world chopped them off - it was squirrels. Putting water out for critters is a BIG no-no in my neighborhood. When they come into the yard for the water they decide to eat the veggie plants and the veggies -and- never touch the water. We had to dismantle our bird bath for that reason. Still get a renegade squirrel on occasion but now use Plantskydd and Repels All with 95% success. I also think it could be deer if you are semi-urban. I have relatives in a well developed subdivision in No. Virginia and they can not grow garden because of the deer and squirrels (yard rats).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 3:01AM
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A day went by with no damage, but I came home from work today and found some leaves laying on the ground near one of my plants and one tiny young tomato laying on the ground. I had put a fence around my other plants and they weren't touched, which leads me to believe it might be something that can't climb. The tiny tomato had just the top chewed off of it, but it I couldn't discern who the bite marks could belong to.

I don't think it would be deer. It's not a suburban neighborhood, closer to urban, and I don't think a deer would go for the bottom of the plants or eat a tomato that was 6 inches off the ground. We do have a lot of squirrels, though. The leaves and branches always have the ends chewed off, which is often what hornworm damage looks like, but I can not find a worm to save my life. It must be happening during the day, so it must not be anything nocturnal like worms right? I also don't think worms could destroy a whole plant in less than a day, so a rodent makes sense. How do I keep squirrels away? Seems impossible. And squirrels are always running along fences, so why aren't they going after either of my neighbor's gardens?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:40PM
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