Squirrels may appear harmless but can cause damage to plants. Therefore, gardeners always look for ways to protect their plants from squirrels. If you’re a keen veg gardener, then you probably grow tomatoes. But do squirrels eat tomato plants or not?
Yes, squirrels will eat tomato plants found in gardens. They can eat the plants, the leaves and even the tomatoes themselves. Tomato plants aren’t at the top of their list, however.
Squirrels have a varied diet and consume all sorts of things, from plants to small animals.
Unfortunately, this wide variety for a diet means that if you have a tomato plant, it can fall prey to squirrel damage.
Sometimes squirrels will eat whole tomatoes from the plants, eat some of them, and leave the rest. In addition, squirrels can also rip the vine and take the plant somewhere safe to eat.
Do Squirrels Eat Plants at Night?
No, squirrels are not nocturnal. They tend to spend the nights sleeping. Although you may see a squirrel out at night, this is not by choice. Therefore, if your plants have damage at night, then this is unlikely to be caused by squirrels.
What is Eating My Tomato Plants at Night?
If you suspect something is eating your plants at night, it is unlikely to be squirrels. Squirrels are not nocturnal animals and are active during the day while they sleep at night.
There can be other animals eating your tomato plants at night. Some of the animals you can look out for are as follows:
Snails and Slugs
One of the most common garden pests is snails and slugs, which come out at night. You can also find them hiding in the mulch or underneath plants in shaded areas. If you have slugs or snails in your garden, you can tell by the damage, which is small holes in the leaves.
A great way to deal with slugs and snails is to sprinkle some eggshells near your tomato plants. The eggshells are rough and are uncomfortable for them to glide on.
In addition, you can also sprinkle some coffee grounds, which also provide discomfort.
Installing beer traps is also a good idea. You can fill a small container with beer to attract these slimy pests and drown them.
Some other options include using slug repellents like copper tape to create a barrier around your plants. The copper wire reacts with the slime and gives an electrical jolt.
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Cutworms are small, fat worms that are black and grey. The larvae hide in the soil in the daytime and then come out at night to consume plants. You can tell that you have cutworms if the damage is at the stems or ground level.
With cutworms, you can try handpicking them. Most people are not big fans of handpicking pests. You can wear gloves, go out at night, pick cutworms, and get rid of them.
A natural predator of cutworms is fireflies, so you can control their population by attracting them.
Using cardboard, you can use plant collars and place them around your plants until they are so thick that the cutworms cannot bite. In addition, diatomaceous earth is known to be a good option, and you can sprinkle some around your plant.
It cannot always be insects that have been eating your tomato plants. Rabbits are also known to trouble gardeners as they consume plants and can damage them overnight.
In the case of a rabbit attack, you will find that they will eat all the stems and fruits, leaving nothing behind.
You can prevent damage caused by rabbits by fencing your garden. As rabbits are excellent diggers, they can dig their way inside your garden. Therefore, when you fence, you must consider the depth and height.
In addition, you can spread some sulfur or keep an onion plant as they have strong smells, which help deter rabbits.
Hornworms are also known to cause damage to plants. These worms are usually three to five inches long and have horns that stick from their rear end.
The hornworms that feed on tomatoes will not sting but can make holes in tomato leaves. In addition, hornworms like eating tomato flowers too.
As the damage is mainly on the leaves, they can fall off, giving less protection to the tomatoes from the sun and damaging them. You can also tell that you have hornworms by looking for their black or green droppings.
The larvae of hornworms hide in the soil, so it would be a good idea to rake the soil and kill them. In addition, you can also handpick these works if you see them on your tomato plants and immerse them in soap water to kill them.
Attracting predators like birds, wasps and ladybugs is also a good option as you can control the population this way.
Do Squirrels Destroy Tomato Plants?
Squirrels follow a varied diet which is why you will be seeing them consume different things from plants to small animals. One of the plants which squirrels like to attack is tomatoes.
Squirrels cause damage to tomato plants and can destroy them with their strong teeth.
Sometimes, squirrels will leave bite marks on tomatoes and leave them as is. In a small amount of time, squirrels can destroy entire vines. In addition, squirrels will also eat green tomatoes. But these pests do not eat the whole tomato.
Do Squirrels Eat Tomatoes?
Yes, squirrels will eat tomato fruits. Instead, they have been known to harvest the fruits from the plants, run off and then eat them elsewhere safer!
Do Squirrels Eat Tomato Leaves?
Yes, squirrels have been known to nibble away at the end of tomato leaves. This is rare, however, as they prefer foods with a higher protein level and more sustenance.
One of the problems with maintaining a garden is constantly having to deal with pests. One such pest which affects gardens and damages plants is the squirrel.
Squirrels follow a varied diet, and they eat different things, including tomatoes. Sometimes, squirrels will take a bite from the tomatoes or run off with one to eat somewhere safe.
However, if you suspect the damage is being done overnight, different animals may be doing so instead of squirrels. Squirrels are not nocturnal and sleep during the night, so they cannot be harming tomato plants.
Some animals that can harm your tomato plants at night include rabbits, hornworms, cutworms, slugs, and snails.
Ryan is a keen gardener from the UK who’s spent years dealing with countless, common pests over the years so knows the ins and outs of how to deal with pests in the garden