Who (or What!) Is Destroying My Green Tomatoes?

published Aug 13, 2014
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(Image credit: Joanna Dorota)

I’ve been growing tomatoes this summer, and it’s been a fruitful and delicious endeavor but not without a little garden drama. Just a few days into harvesting the ripening tomatoes, we ran into trouble. I went to the garden one morning to find tomatoes strewn around the yard.

Seemingly untouched, the still-green fruits (and a few ripe ones) sat in the grass with no sign of tooth marks. What (or who) had done this!? After raising the large plants from mere seeds, this felt like a terrible violation. Further inspection of the plants revealed that everything from about knee height and down had been picked and everything higher remained. Either little tomato-snagging elves had visited us or we had a case of garden pests. But what?

Some ideas from friends and family: deer (unlikely as we live near downtown of our mid-size city), rabbits (how would they get the fruit into the yard without bite marks and wouldn’t they eat it?), raccoons or chipmunks (ditto about eating it).

But then I looked into the possibility of squirrels… and I’m fairly convinced that they’re the culprits.

You see, squirrels don’t actually like tomatoes. They may come and snag a few, but a bite out of one and they’re done. Which would make sense with my uneaten ones. And they seem to have the dexterity to remove tomatoes from plants without using their teeth. Further research told me that they’d be deterred by plenty of food they do like being available to them. So I put out some birdseed, which we usually reserve for birds in winter. So far, so good. It could be working or it could be that the remaining tomatoes are simply too high for them.

What do you think? And have you ever had to share beloved garden tomatoes with a pest?