Yes, squirrels do eat tomato plants.
Tomato plants are often targeted by squirrels due to their juicy and delicious fruits. Squirrels are known to nibble on the leaves, stems, and even the ripe tomatoes themselves. If you are a gardener or have tomato plants in your backyard, it’s important to take measures to protect your plants from these furry creatures.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Tomato Plants?
Squirrels are omnivores and have a diverse diet that includes nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and even insects. While they primarily feed on nuts and seeds, they are opportunistic eaters and will not hesitate to consume other food sources when available. Tomato plants, with their vibrant and appetizing fruits, become an attractive target for squirrels.
Signs of Squirrel Damage on Tomato Plants
Identifying squirrel damage on tomato plants is crucial to take appropriate action. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Nibbled leaves: Squirrels may chew on the leaves of tomato plants, leaving behind irregularly shaped bite marks.
- Missing fruits: Ripe tomatoes may disappear overnight, indicating squirrel activity.
- Stem damage: Squirrels may gnaw on the stems of tomato plants, causing them to weaken or break.
- Dug-up soil: Squirrels may dig around the base of tomato plants while searching for buried nuts or seeds.
Protecting Tomato Plants from Squirrels
Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to protect your tomato plants from squirrel damage. Here are some effective methods:
1. Use Physical Barriers
Creating physical barriers around your tomato plants can help deter squirrels. Consider using the following:
|Wire mesh cages||Enclose individual tomato plants with wire mesh cages to prevent squirrels from accessing them.|
|Netting||Cover the entire tomato plant with netting to protect the fruits from being eaten by squirrels.|
|Fencing||Install a fence around your garden to keep squirrels out. Ensure the fence is buried at least 6 inches deep to prevent them from burrowing underneath.|
Using squirrel repellents can help deter these critters from approaching your tomato plants. Consider the following options:
- Spray repellents: Apply commercially available squirrel repellents on and around your tomato plants. These repellents often have a strong odor or taste that squirrels find unpleasant.
- Natural deterrents: Some gardeners have had success using natural deterrents like cayenne pepper, garlic, or predator urine around their tomato plants.
3. Plant Selection
Choosing squirrel-resistant tomato varieties can reduce the likelihood of damage. Look for varieties that have tougher skins or are less appealing to squirrels. Additionally, planting other squirrel-attractive plants away from your tomato plants may divert their attention elsewhere.
4. Harvest Ripe Tomatoes Promptly
Harvesting ripe tomatoes as soon as they are ready can prevent squirrels from feasting on them. Regularly check your plants and remove any ripe fruits to minimize the attraction for squirrels.
In conclusion, squirrels do eat tomato plants, and their damage can be frustrating for gardeners. By implementing physical barriers, using repellents, selecting appropriate plant varieties, and promptly harvesting ripe tomatoes, you can protect your tomato plants from squirrel damage and enjoy a bountiful harvest.