Skip to Content

What is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems? 6 Culprits To Know

What is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems? 6 Culprits To Know

Tomatoes are an easy plant to grow, making them a top choice for plants that home gardeners can grow. When tomatoes are grown at home, they tend to be chocked full of nutrients and flavor.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to enjoy your tomatoes if a pest is eating away at the plant. If something has been eating your tomato plant stems, you’ll want to get to the bottom of the problem as soon as you can.

 

What Is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems?

Cutworms, stem borers and click beetle larvae do eat tomato plant stems. While rodents and birds will often try to eat tomatoes, cuts at the stems are usually caused by insects. 

 

What is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems?

What is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems?

If the pests continue to eat away at the plant’s stems, the stems will eventually break, which could cause the plant to die.

It’s important to act quickly when your plant is being attacked so that you can avoid serious damage.

 

How to Protect My Tomato Plant From Pests

Since tomatoes are often a target for pests, it’s best to take a few precautions to keep your plants safe.

Keep a watchful eye on your plants and make sure they’re getting the nourishment that they need.

Some plants, like basil, collard greens, and marigolds, can help to ward off pests that like to attack tomatoes.

You can plant basil, collard greens, and marigolds together with your tomatoes to protect their stems from pests

You can plant basil, collard greens, and marigolds together with your tomatoes to protect their stems from pests

There are also plants that can attract insects that will feed off tomato killers, such as parsley and borage.

While there are many ways to protect tomatoes, it will be easier to keep your plants safe if you know what’s attacking them.

 

1. Cutworms

If something’s been eating away at the stems near the base of your plant, there’s a good chance that cutworms are the culprit.

These bugs, which look similar to caterpillars, like to gnaw away at your tomato plants at night, making them tough to spot.

Cutworms typically eat the base of your tomato plants at nighttime, making them hard to spot

Cutworms typically eat the base of your tomato plants at nighttime, making them hard to spot

One of the easiest ways to protect your plant against cutworms is to place a cardboard tube around the base of your stem.

You can also use tomato cones and cages to shield your plant from cutworms.

Placing your tomato plants in tomato cages helps protect their stems from cutworms

Placing your tomato plants in tomato cages helps protect their stems from cutworms

 

2. Tomato Hornworms

Many insects that feed off tomato plants are very small, but tomato hornworms are on the larger side.

Tomato hornworms are larger compared to the other insects that eat on your tomato plant stems

Tomato hornworms are larger compared to the other insects that eat on your tomato plant stems

While this means they can do a lot of damage to a plant, it also makes them easier to remove.

Inspect your plants carefully to check for hornworms. If you spot any of these insects, remove them from the plant and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.

 

3. Click Beetle Larvae

Not only do these pests like to munch on the stems of tomato plants, but they also eat the plant’s roots.

Click beetle larvae not only love to eat the tomato plant's stems, they also cause damage to its roots

Click beetle larvae not only love to eat the tomato plant’s stems, they also cause damage to its roots

If these larvae start attacking your plant, they can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time.

If you suspect that your soil is infested by click beetle larvae, try removing about an inch of topsoil. This will expose the larvae to the elements, making them more vulnerable to nearby predators.

 

4. Stem Borers

Stem borers aren’t actually a specific type of insect. Instead, this term refers to any type of insect larvae that like to bore into a plant’s stems.

Stem borers are insects that love to eat plant stems, including those of your tomato plants

Stem borers are insects that love to eat plant stems, including those of your tomato plants

It can be difficult to remove larvae once they’ve burrowed into a plant’s stem.

It’s best to be proactive and use a cage or cone to protect your plant before anything has a chance to bore its way in.

 

5. Flea Beetles

Flea beetles typically attack the leaves of tomato plants rather than the stem.

Flea beetles typically attack the tomato plant's leaves, but they lay their eggs on the stem which can damage it as well

Flea beetles typically attack the tomato plant’s leaves, but they lay their eggs on the stem which can damage it as well

However, these beetles lay eggs that can damage the stem of your plant as well.

To protect your tomato plants against flea beetles, you can use row covers. Before placing a row cover, remove about an inch of topsoil to get rid of any larvae that may be living in the soil.

Covering your growing tomato plants in row covers can help protect them from flea beetles

Covering your growing tomato plants in row covers can help protect them from flea beetles

 

6. Other Pests

While rodents like rats and squirrels are less likely to attack your tomato plant’s stems, they could still be the source of the damage.

Rats and squirrels don't usually attack tomato plant stems, but they can cause damage to them as well

Rats and squirrels don’t usually attack tomato plant stems, but they can cause damage to them as well

Rabbits and birds sometimes munch on the stem of your tomato plant, too.

Rabbits and birds can also sometimes eat on the tomato plant's stem

Rabbits and birds can also sometimes eat on the tomato plant’s stem

You can try to catch these pests with traps or use a cover to protect your plant. Pests with a strong sense of smell, like squirrels, can be repelled by strong odors.

 

What Else Damages Tomato Plant Stems

Even if there’s visible damage to the stems of your tomato plant, you’re not necessarily dealing with any sort of pest.

If your tomato plant stems are damaged, but you haven’t seen any signs of pests, it’s possible that something else is causing the damage.

Strong winds can cause the stem of your tomato plant to bend, causing damage that may look like a bite.

Tall tomato plants may also start to bend, causing the step to break.

Tall tomato plants can sometimes bend and cause damage to their stems

Tall tomato plants can sometimes bend and cause damage to their stems

It’s best to use either a cage or a trellis to support your tomato plant as it grows. If you live in an area with very strong winds, you may need to place a wind cover over your plants.

One way to prevent your tomato plant stems from incurring damage is to use a trellis for its support

One way to prevent your tomato plant stems from incurring damage is to use a trellis for its support

 

Other Ways to Protect Tomato Plants

You should work to keep your tomato plants safe from pests, but there are additional precautions you should take if you want your plants to thrive.

Since tomatoes need warm soil, you shouldn’t plant tomatoes until the 60-degree Fahrenheit soil temperature is reached.

Row covers can protect against pests, but they can also protect your plants from the cold. If temperatures drop unexpectedly, row covers could help your plants to survive the dip in temperature.

Tomatoes require lots of sunshine and plenty of water. To help prevent water evaporation on hot days, add a layer of mulch to the soil.

When you prune tomato plants, focus on removing leaves that shoot off from the main stem of the plant. This can help to improve air circulation around the plant.

Remove the leaves that shoot off the main stem of your tomato plants to improve the air circulation around them

Remove the leaves that shoot off the main stem of your tomato plants to improve the air circulation around them

Above all else, it’s important to monitor your tomato plants regularly. The earlier you spot signs of damage, like stems with bite marks, the better.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About What Eats On My Tomato Plant Stems

 

Can You Grow Tomato Plants Indoors?

Tomato plants can only grow indoors if they have the same conditions that they would have outside. While you can protect tomato plants from pests by keeping them in a greenhouse, tomatoes aren’t a great houseplant.

 

Why Are My Tomato Plant’s Leaves Yellowing?

If you’ve noticed your tomato plant leaves starting to yellow, it’s likely that your plant isn’t getting enough nutrients. Tomatoes need lots of nutrients and should be fertilized regularly.

 

Conclusion On What is Eating My Tomato Plant Stems

While it can be frustrating when your tomato plant is attacked by pests, there are ways to fight back against any garden pest.

Take steps to protect your plant from pests so that it’s able to produce plenty of tomatoes.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.

Plantophiles Shop