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kstrittmater

Lizards eating tomatoes?

16 years ago

After several failed attempts, I've finally gotten tomatoes to grow here in the desert (Scottsdale, AZ) by using a raised bed. The tomatoes are beginning to turn red, and I'll be darned if one by one they aren't being damaged! Each morning I find one tomato with a 1/2" wide hole that is about 1/2" deep -- just enough to ruin the tomato!

I suspect that lizards are doing it. I don't have rabbits (fenced yard); they don't look like bird holes; and I'm fairly certain that it isn't insects because it is just one a day. Today I actually caught a lizard sunning in the raised bed. Does anybody know if lizards eat tomatoes? And, if so, is the best solution to put netting around it?

Thanks!

Kris

Comments (23)

  • 16 years ago

    Lizards don't eat tomatoes, I'd put my money on birds. They are notorious for ruining tomatoes and can sneak in and out while your back is turned!

    Kevin

  • 16 years ago

    I agree with Kevin, lizards have no interest in your tomatoes, other than for shade. Insects, birds, and squirrels all love to mess with the maters though. You could always cover them with shade cloth to protect from both harsh sunlight and critters.

  • 16 years ago

    Rats will eat tomatoes; they love them. We have some pet rats and I give them tomato trimmings. If you have roof rats or other wild rats in your neighborhood, they may be the culprit.

  • 16 years ago

    Rats are a definite possibility. If you have "lizards" that you have seen eating them they what you really have is iguanas. Third possibility is rolly-polly bugs or pill bugs. They usually get tomatoes that are touching the soil.
    Put a little brown paper bag around them. If something tears through the beg, it's rats.
    For rats, use traps with vanilla, dates, and peanut butter for bait. Or get more cats.

  • 10 years ago

    OK, here it is 6 years later and I have the same problem. The followup postings all missed the point that the tomatoes are NOT being eaten, only bitten, like something is testing to see if they like it. I had this problem last year with tomatoes in a small raised planter, thought it was birds, so I enclosed them with bird netting and the problem went away. This year I built a walk-in enclosure with 1" chicken wire and have the same problem. Its not birds. Don't know if lizards would bite them or not. We had a mouse in the garage when it was cold, so they're around. That's my best bet. Has anyone figured it out??

  • 10 years ago

    wood pecker . . . likely doing it more for the moisture than the food. Put in a bird friendly fountain and see if the problem goes away. Small netting. I was rather surprised at the success of a fairly fine plastic mesh net stretched over my garden bed.

  • 10 years ago

    don't think its birds, tho I do have occasional woodpecker. I don't think they would come thru the 1" chicken wire and damage is usually on interior bushy side of plant, and doesn't look like beak damage, more like bite or claw marks. Planning on putting in a bird/bee watering hole, so I'll see what happens. Also may put a mouse trap and video cam out there and see if I can catch something.

  • 10 years ago

    Had this same problem a few years ago - "bite" marks from the bottom side of tomatoes that were close to, but not touching, the ground. Never did figure it out for sure, however I found that if I wrapped the tomatoes in old pantyhose scraps that nothing could get to them! It was a real pain but the most effective tomato protector strategy I ever used!

  • 10 years ago

    It has to be mice or rats. I found a big ol kangaroo rat that was eating all of my pumpkin blossoms before they were pollinated, I had issues with rabbits but buried wire fencing at all entry points to the yard and that did the trick with them, then I saw a squirrel tear out of there one day but I didn't think it was doing the damage, then I saw that kangaroo rat or whatever it was and that was the culprit, I got a couple traps but they only caught birds, so I just started leaving food out for my neighbors cat and with him patrolling every now and then I haven't had anymore issues.

  • 10 years ago

    I had that happen and it was ground squirrels. They came from an open field about 1/4 of a mile away. Climbed over the block wall and into the yard. My husband got rid of them.

  • 10 years ago

    I have the same problem here in Southwest Arizona, La Paz county 100 miles west of Phoenix. Whatever it is is also eating the young tomato plants, brocolli, sweet potatoes and regular potatoes. They don't eat the leaves, they are left lying on the ground, only the stem of the plants. I was thinking lizards but the smaller ones I have seen eating moths and bugs and the big white/light colored ones I haven't seen this year. There were a lot of them last summer and I caught one on top of a kale plant munching away to his heart's content. I have chicken wire to keep out the rabbits so that rules them out. It also takes place at night so birds are not likely. The ground squirrel connection could be it. I have seen them in the yard even and I never considered them as the culprit. I used to have 2 cats which probably kept them out of the yard. I hate to poison things but I hate to keep losing my plants. Any suggestions?

  • 10 years ago

    Almost all Arizona lizards are carnivores. They don't eat tomatoes.

    ground squirrels, rabbits, rats, birds and bugs would be the culprit not lizards.

  • 10 years ago

    Hi Kris,
    I am new to AZ. but am an experienced gardener. I now live in Cave Creek above Scottsdale. I have only been here 1 year. I have put in a completely covered 12x24 garden. Something is eating on my very few tomatoes that the plants produced. Can't be birds or rabbits as it is enclosed completely. I am from KY where I gave away bags of tomatoes! My tomatoes I put in the ground here Feb. 1 are not producing much! I would love to hear from you how you are doing well with tomatoes! I start a lot of plants from seed and that works but not much produce! Please write me and let me know what finally worked for you? Also anyone else in AZ. with some advice on tomatoes!
    Thanks,
    Carol

  • 10 years ago

    OK I was wrong. My problem was birds. I thought it must be mice. Since I enclosed the garden with 1" chicken wire I thought the birds couldn't get at the tomatoes, believing that Mockingbirds were the main crop destroyer because they annually strip my grapes. I finally put up a surveillance camera and discovered the little finches ??? that hang around eating the tomatoes. I covered the enclosure with the finer plastic bird netting and hopefully it will keep them out.

  • 9 years ago

    OK are you sure it's birds because I was betting money that the lizards were paying everyone off....I came on the site because I have the same problem!!! I still can't believe that birds are getting through the netting, I did the same thing last year and it keeps happening.

  • 9 years ago

    Birds. Watched 'em doing it. Gave them water. They (mostly) stopped doing it.

  • 7 years ago

    Call it a lizard or a desert iguana, but that is what it is making those holes. I fenced in a tomato plant with chicken wire and kept finding them dead, head stuck through the wire, tomato in its jaw. I couldn't stand it and just decided to share my tomatoes with them. I cut out the hole and eat the rest.
    http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care-Sheets/Desert-Iguana/

  • 7 years ago

    Sidney: You're pulling our legs, right? Only proof is a photo.


  • 6 years ago

    I have a raised garden the garden is covered by mesh to stop the birds. My tomatoes are 5 feet off the ground growing on string attached to poles. As my tomatoes begin to ripen I noticed holes. First I assumed mice. Purchased many mouse traps and sticky pads. Placed the sticky pads 5 feet above the ground under the tomatoes. Never caught a mouse but caught 6 lizards with the sticky pads that where just below the tomatoes. Since then, no more holes in any tomatoes. The only photo I can produces is 6 lizards caught by sticky pads. So just do the math.

  • 4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I am baffled I planted a garden in So. Ca. Mid May this year. Up 3’ on a retaining wall. My garden looks like Jack in the bean stalk. . It is amazing 4 times the growth this year faster than ever. I am obsessive over tomato worms. I check between 2 and 4 times daily. If there is one tiny hole in a leaf I see it, confirm a thread sized tiny worm and pick it off and kill it. So no holes ever left on a plant. I find eggs, and small worms daily. But I am being attacked, mostly at night, once during the day with something eating my first set green tomatoes, possibly 3 inch and smaller. I find half of the tomato or tomatoes of the whole cluster eaten. They leave a pile of shreddings on the ground under the damaged tomatoes. There are no teeth marks as mice, rats, rabbits would leave. There are 1” pieces of tomatoe in the spread pile about an eighth to a quarter inch wide, curved following the growth of the tomatoe. If it were worms or grasshoppers they also eat the plant. I never miss my garden rounds, check twice in daylight and vary my night checks, from early 8pm, to 12, to 2am, 4am and never catch the creeps. We have no squirrels, rabbits, yet have tons of really big lizards. Since almost always night time, I rule out birds, they have sharp beaks and leave marks when they eat, and don’t leave the pile of shredding on the ground. The bite is wide and smooth. No sharp marks as bugs and mice, birds. Finally my money is on these dozens of large lizards. Doesn’t make sense but I can’t blame anyone else. All of the other vermin leave poop. There is no poop at the damage site. There are little log shaped poop around the wall I believe is lizard. Looks like a lot of you are being pranked by the same vermin... so far it is just the low growing tomatoes, up to 8 “ from the ground. All leaves have been removed so I would see insect damage on the plant. Nothing. Just awake to half eaten very green underdeveloped tomatoes. Please share any info out there. I feel so rewarded for this huge productive garden, in a very limited space in a tract house fenced yard, but loosing my cool over the loss of all of the first wave tomatoes. Any help?.

  • 3 years ago

    Lizards DO eat tomatoes...and cucumbers. I left a motion camera inside our bird- and mouse-proof, raised bed, and a lizard wiggled through and popped off a tomato, eating only a small portion but ruining the vegetable. I’ve tried leaving garlic, as some have suggested elsewhere online, but they only worked for a few days. I have a lizard and reptile deterrent spray coming today that I hope works. I’ll update you if it does! Otherwise, I’m at a loss as well. Maybe sticky traps placed around the plants might work - or buying a small gardener snake 😂

  • 3 years ago

    I tend to think that perhaps the lizards ( skinks) have worked out that midges migrate to a broken skin tomato. I have resident skinks but thought I had a rat, faeces similar appearance I only just discovered. However during the day the skink is hovering near the cherry tomato remnants. I left them to observe and satisfy my curiosity b4 I purchase a rat eradication solution.

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