How to stop squirrels from eating your tomatoes
You’ve just found holes chewed into your ripening tomatoes and now they’re ruined. How do you prevent this from happening again? The first step is to find out what’s been chewing on your tomatoes.
The most likely culprit is squirrels, but that’s not always the case. There are many animals that enjoy vine ripened tomatoes just as much as squirrels do.
Some species of birds will peck holes in tomatoes to eat the insides. However, if the leaves of your tomato plants are being eaten as well it may be the large but well camouflaged Tomato Hornworm.
Groundhogs love to eat tomatoes as well, so if you live in a part of the country that has groundhogs, take this into consideration.
Determining when your tomatoes are being eaten can help immensely in figuring out who the culprit is. Squirrels are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day and sleep at night. If your tomatoes are being eaten during the night, it’s not a squirrel. Night time attacks on your tomato plants are more likely to be caused by raccoons or possums. This is especially true if you find that nearly the entire tomato has been eaten.
Squirrels, however, usually nibble a hole in the side of the tomato, eat just a little of it and then move on to do the same to the next tomato.
If you’re certain that it is squirrels eating your tomatoes there are a few things you can do to help prevent this from happening again.
Although it’s difficult, many people have had success preventing squirrels from eating tomatoes by wrapping the tomato plants in a hardware cloth. Here is an example of a complete enclosure made from hardware cloth.
Some tomato growers have thought that perhaps squirrels eat tomatoes because they’re thirsty and otherwise can’t find a source of freshwater. While this theory may have some merit, there have also been those who have witnessed squirrels eating tomatoes even after a rain when fresh water was plentiful. This doesn’t necessarily disprove the notion either, so do your own experiments by placing a bird bath in your yard. Keep it filled with clean fresh water from the hose and see if it doesn’t eliminate your problem.
Another method is to install a Squirrel feeder elsewhere on your property and provide the squirrels with nuts or grains which squirrels are likely to prefer over tomatoes. peanuts, sunflower seeds and cracked corn all make a good alternative squirrel food.
Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent sprayed onto the tomatoes can be a good deterrent; The squirrels bite into one and then never bite into another. The pepper wax washes off under warm water so that you don’t get the same surprise you gave the squirrel.
Placing pinwheel toys, wind spinners and wind chimes in the garden can help temporarily, but the squirrels will eventually become accustomed to their presence and will begin to ignore them. However, occasionally alternating these items with different noise and movement makers can keep the squirrels guessing.
In summary the first thing to do is to make sure you know what it is that’s eating your tomatoes. If you find out that it is in fact squirrels, the best thing to do is to experiment with some of these deterrent methods mentioned above to find out which ones work best for you. A combination of squirrel deterrent methods is always better than implementing just one.
For additional articles and information about keeping squirrels out of the garden, check out the category: Protecting your garden from squirrels.