Something Is Eating the Bottom of My Tomatoes

Tomatoes are an easy-to-grow summer vegetable that come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Although they generally grow with few problems in regions with warm summers, tomatoes can suffer from insect pests, especially the tomato hornworm, diseases and animals that like the juicy red fruit.

  1. Tomato Hornworm Pest

    • One of the most insidious insect pests of tomatoes is the hornworm, which is the larval stage of a moth. It chews holes in tomatoes, sometimes at the bottoms of the fruit. Hand picking is an effective control of this pest because they are large and easy to find. Look for their black pellet-like droppings on the soil below your plant and then search the plant above for this large green worm with a horn on its rear. If the population is large or you are squeamish about handling and killing hornworms, dust your plant with organic Bacillus thuringiensis, available at nurseries.

    Animals that Eat Tomatoes

    • Insects are not the only creatures that eat tomatoes. Squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds, opossums, raccoons and rats can also be the culprits. Birds normally attack the top sides of tomatoes, but other animals sneak up under the hanging fruit and make a feast of the bottoms of the tomatoes. Fencing your garden can help to keep some creatures away from your plants. Cover the area with bird netting if you have noticed birds eating your tomatoes.

    Causes of Tomato Bottoms Turning Black or Rotting

    • A condition known as blossom end rot is common in tomatoes when they receive irregular or erratic amounts of water, which reduces the amount of calcium available to the fruit. The bottom of the fruit turns black and will rot in time if you leave it on the plant. Pick affected tomatoes as soon as possible and cut off the bottoms: the upper portion remains edible. If you irrigate your tomatoes, stick to a schedule of deeply watering your plants when the soil becomes dry. Watch for wilting and then flood the soil when this occurs.

    Be Cautious in Your Control Methods

    • It might be tempting to use rat poison or other toxic materials to get rid of an animal that is plaguing your tomato plants. However, any unsuspecting, innocent animal can be lured into eating poisoned grain products. If you have pets, they can also eat the poison, or a poisoned animal, resulting in their death as well as the troublesome pest. Shooting animal invaders might also be tempting, but the use of any type of gun carries risks to the user and any other animal that is in the area.

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