What Pests / Insects Are Eating My Tomatoes? 11 Possible Culprits

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Quick Answer: Pests / Insects Eating My Tomatoes

Tomato plants are subjected to attack by a large number of pests, including hornworms, pinworms, cutworms, aphids, leafminers, and white flies. They may attack the plants causing damaged foliage and fruits. They may also spread diseases and kill the plants in extreme cases. Practice crop rotation, handpick these pests, and follow appropriate pest control measures to save the plant.

In this guide, I will cover in detail what pests/insects might be eating your tomato plants and the potential treatment for them.

I have used my experience, expert discussions, and research to write this detailed guide.

Let us dig in!

What Is Eating My Tomatoes?

Tomatoes are the most rewarding crops in the garden.

But, it is disheartening to find spots on the leaves, holes in the fruits, bare branches, or collapsing plants. What is happening to them?

There are certain unwanted garden intruders, including hornworms, cutworms, leaf miners, aphids, and slugs, eating your tomato plants during their growth process. You may identify them by checking the marks left on them.

Let us examine the different signature damage of other pests below:

1. Holes Chewed In Leaves And Fruits

The holes chewed in the leaves and fruits indicate the presence of tomato hornworm. These caterpillar species have white diagonal stripes with a black horn projecting from behind.

It is hard to spot them due to their green color. They may remove the leaves of an entire plant.

How To Get Rid Of Tomato Hornworm?

You may handpick these caterpillars due to their size and drop them in soapy water. You may treat them using iron phosphate-based slug pellets and beneficial nematodes.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of hornworms>

Here is a video on treating hornworms:

2. Small Holes In Fruits

Tomato fruitworm is another pest that may be responsible for small black holes in the fruit, especially at the base. These fruits may collapse when you pick them. 

These moth goes inside the fruits and consumes them from within. The infected tomato fruits have to be destroyed if the larvae are in the fruit.

How To Get Rid Of Tomato Fruitworm?

You may keep the tomato plants under row cover and cover them until they start flowering if your area has a severe fruit worm infestation.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Tomato fruitworm>

3. Yellow, Distorted, and Curled Leaves

The most destructive tomato pest is the sap-sucking insect, aphid.  These are the dense clusters of tiny insects seen on the stems or new growth of the tomato plants.  

The aphid infestation may develop yellowed, distorted, and curled leaves. Also, the leaf is covered with a sticky secretion and may kill the plant if left untreated.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids?

You may treat aphids using a strong jet of soapy water or applying neem oil. Pinch off the leaves where the aphids are densely concentrated and discard them into the garbage.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Aphids>

Check out this useful video on identifying aphids and treating them:

4. Blotchy Spots On Foliage

Tomato pinworm may develop blotchy spots on the foliage and small holes on the fruit surrounded by a brown zone. It may sometimes tunnel into the fruit. It is common in warmer areas and occasionally in greenhouses. 

How To Get Rid Of Tomato Pinworm?

Use organic controls, including parasitic wasps and Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) sprays to treat pinworm.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Pinworm>

5. Irregular Shaped Holes On Leaf Blade

Few slimy slugs and snails cause irregularly shaped holes on the leaf blade. These creatures hang on the undersides of the tomato plants and leave a slimy path.

How To Get Rid Of Slugs And Snails?

Use slug tape and a fence to prevent them from reaching your plants. Spread mildly crushed eggshells or coffee grounds around the plants to discourage them from climbing over. Set out a shallow saucer of beer for a trap.

Click this video link to control slugs and snails naturally:

6. Stunted Plant With Distorted Foliage

Whiteflies are small white flying insects that live on the undersides of the foliage and suck the plant juices. They will affect the foliage and make it distorted and mottled. Also, the plant growth appears stunted.

How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies?

Apply insecticidal soaps to the affected areas. You may introduce natural predators, including ladybugs and lacewing. Remove the infected areas of the plant in extreme cases.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Whiteflies>

You may go through this video for more information:

7. Cut Young Plants On Base

Cutworms are annoying pests in springtime that will encircle and cut through the tender stems. They chew the plants at the soil line and cause wilting of them in extreme cases. 

These worms have a waxy appearance that coils up into a little ring. They hide beneath the soil or under plant debris during the day.

How To Get Rid Of Cutworms?

Use a loose-fitting collar made of aluminum foil around the plant base to ward off cutworms. You may handpick them at night using a flashlight. Sprinkle Bt sprays around the plants and attract fireflies to kill them.

For more information on cutworms, check out this video:

8. Perforated Leaf Surfaces

A very familiar black and yellow-striped potato bug, Colorado potato beetles may pose a threat to tomato plants. They make tears from the edges of the plant and perforate the leaf surfaces irregularly. They damage the tomato leaves within a short time.

How To Get Rid Of Colorado Potato Beetles?

Colorado potato beetles are easy to locate and can be handpicked. Put them in soapy water to destroy them. Use floating covers to protect your plants from flying pests.

Here is a useful video on the Colorado potato beetle:

9. Irregular Winding Mines In Leaves

Vegetable leafminers may create white-colored, irregular winding mines in leaves. It may lead to desiccation, premature falling of leaves, and cosmetic damage.

They can eradicate seedlings and young plants.

How To Get Rid Of Leaf Miners?

Use natural predators, including wasps to control leaf miners. Destroy the affected leaves as soon as symptoms appear. Cover the young plants with mesh row covers.

Check out this video on how to control leaf miners on tomato plants:

10. Wilting, Yellow Foliage, And Stunting

Root-knot nematodes cause wilting, yellowing of foliage, and stunting in plants. They cause swelling and knob-like growths on tomato roots. They are common in warm areas with short winters.

How To Get Rid Of Root-Knot Nematodes?

You may grow varieties with resistance or tolerance as a natural measure. You may also solarise the soil or practice companion planting with marigolds for a season. So, the rotation of crops is extremely important.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Nemotodes>

Check out this video on root-knot nematodes:

11. Dainty Webbing On The Leaves

Spider mites are common tomato pests that infest in large groups. They settle on the underside of the leaves forming dainty webbing around leaves and stems.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites?

You may introduce ladybugs as natural predators. Spray the infected areas with neem oil or insecticidal soap.  You may remove and destroy the affected foliage in extreme cases.

Check the detailed guide on the identification, control, and Prevention of Spider Mites>

12. Defoliation Of Plants

Another pest that likes to dine on the tomatoes and defoliate the plant is blister beetles.  They release a blistering agent, cantharidin when crushed or injured.

They chew on tomato leaves and may completely defoliate the plant in extreme cases.

How To Get Rid Of Blister Beetles?

Handpick these pests and drop them into soapy water immediately to prevent them from flying. You may also protect the plants using well-anchored row covers.

Here is a video on how to get rid of blister beetles:

Frequently Asked Questions

Do leaf cutter bees damage tomato plants?

No, leafcutter bees do not damage tomato plants. They form half-moon-shaped cuts around the leaf edges to lay eggs. These bees only do cosmetic damage to the plants and help in pollination. No control measure is recommended for these plants.

Can you suggest some non-insect intruders eating your tomato plants?

Few non-insect intruders that might be eating your tomato plants are rabbits and deer. Rabbits may chew on the stem of a tomato leaving snipped shoots and sharp-cut leaves. Deer may tear the foliage leaving heart-shaped footprints in the garden.

Summary

This article hopefully answered the question of what is eating your tomatoes!

If your tomatoes are still under attack, look at the 11 possible culprits to help you identify the problem.

If you have experience dealing with a tomato-eating culprit, let us know in the comments below!

Finally, share this article with anyone you know who might need the advice.

If you suspect animals or birds are eating your tomato plants, here is a guide to identify them>