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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. Tomato Hornworms
Many insects that feed off tomato plants are very small, but tomato hornworms are on the larger side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rabbits and birds sometimes munch on the stem of your tomato plant, too.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.