wisgardener
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Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

I planted tomatoes in our front yard where the dog keeps the rabbits out. Had about 12 fruits each 1-2" not yet grown or starting to ripen. Came out Monday they were all gone but the stems including the crown are still there. There was one tiny one - grape size- left. This morning found that one with a perfectly round hole maybe 3/8" diameter where something went in and HOLLOWED IT OUT. When I touched the tomato it dropped off the stem leaving the crown. Looked for bugs larvae etc the only thing I found were a few drops of what looked like algae scum on a leaf or two . The leaves look perfectly fine This has happened before but not until after our tomatoes were ripe and then we thought it was our old dog who loved tomatoes. But now with the bore hole the plot thickens.... So I need help. Here are my questions: 1) what do you think is causing this bug, animal combo other? 2) what can I do ? Treatments, fence, netting. Please feel free to give detailed instructions as I am a novice. So, for example, if you say netting --what kind,color, how do I attach it does it have to be on a frame that doesn't touch the plant or do I tie it somehow? I have only a few plants and want to save the other two from this sad fate!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

That's an interesting one. There are a variety of tomato pests, but I'm not sure what does just that kind of damage. Tomato hornwoms are large 3 - 4 " green worms that blend in amazingly well and are difficult to spot. But I think they are mainly leaf eaters and their droppings are hard and black.

Tomato fruitworms (which are the same guys as corn earworms) do enter the fruit and hollow them out. They make a small entry hole near the stem end. But generally then you would find the hollowed out fruit filled with watery fluid, friutworm droppingss and maybe the worms. The fruit that has been attacked like that will quickly rot and drop off, but should still be there on the ground. Look for egg clusters on on the undersides of leaves.

Slugs like to eat tomato fruit andcan hollow them out, but you would probably find some just damaged. And I don't know that they could just disappear all those tomatoes with out leaving more traces. They crawl up from the ground so tend to attack the lowest fruit first. They are only visible at night. If you go out several hours after dark with a flaslight and look closely you should be able to find them.

Lots of macro critters, from birds to squirrels to racoons to deer will eat tomatoes, but they would not leave the round entry hole. Deer just disappear tomato fruit like it was never there. If the ground is soft, you will see their hoofprints. Raccoons also disappear tomatoes, but are messier and may break branches etc. Squirrels most often just take little bites out, but have been known to run off with a whole tomato in their mouth. None of these guys hollow tomatoes out.


Can't suggest what to do until it is figured out who the culprit is. Maybe someone else that's more of a tomato expert will com along with a better answer. Until then, keep checking for eggs, worms, slugs, etc.
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tomc
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

I'm going to second a guess of Tobacco hornworm. Look for green poo. This larva of luna moth eats voraciously. All those leaves and fruit gotta go someplace. The worm itself eats enough tomato that its color ends up matching the plant. (good camoflage)

Follow the poo. Eradicate all that do not have little white egg cases. Spare any that do*.

*There is a parasitic wasp that eats this pest. Those pupal cases are the next generation of organic pest management. The much larger horn-worm is already dieing. Let it grow the next generation of wasps.
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gixxerific
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

I have the same thing going on here with holes in fruit that look as if it has been shot through with a gun. Have yet to find the culprit.

It also think you may have Hornworms as well. I just found one myself after seeing a plant that had been topped by said hornworm. I found a certain little bugger on the plant next to it big as all get out. I will keep looking for more.

You should too, if there is fras, or caterpillar poop on the leaves look hard and long there is something about that must be removed. Look above the fras you will find something hopefully.

Good luck

wisgardener
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

Checked again definitely no larvae I did find some aphids on one leaf which I took off but no leaf damage at all. Also I see a few black specks could it be poo. So what do I do about the aphids and if it is hornworm what do I do for that??

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gixxerific
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

I would not stop looking. Sometimes they are hard to see even if looking them straight in the eye.

bt will work on the worm problem if there is one and NEEM will work on the aphids. A good shot of water may be all you need for aphids though.

wisgardener
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

Sorry what is bt?

cynthia_h
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

BT (sometimes bt, lower case) = bacillus thuringiensis, a bacterium used in organic gardening to take down specific pests. :)

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tomc
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Re: Tomatoes disappearing down to stem one left hollowed out

Right now my old brain will not recall the flavor of wasp that parasitizes tobacco hornworm.

Its worth noting that its egg cases look like little white bobbins hanging off the hornworms back.

Any hornworm who has them, is already dieing. Leave it as habitat for the next generation of wasp.

The remarkable camoflage ability of hornworm (by color of its diet) make searching for them again worth while. AND when there is disapearing plant and fruit hornworm is nearly the whole list of likely suspects...
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