Tomatoes are a common culinary ingredient and garden staple. Eaten raw, cooked, mashed and whole, tomatoes are extremely versatile. As much as humans enjoy tomatoes, so do garden pests. Many insects, diseases and other problems may affect tomato fruit. If you notice small holes appearing in your tomatoes, take immediate action to treat the problem before it ruins your entire crop.
Sometimes, improper cultivation causes damage to tomato plants. Fruits exposed to too much sunlight may develop sunscald. Fruit will begin to look bleached in spots, the red colour fading away. When weakened, tomato plants are more susceptible to damage from pests and diseases. Provide shade for tomato fruits to protect them from sunscald. If tomato fruits droop down to the ground, they are more likely to fall prey to fungus that creates fruit rot, which will make holes and legions appear on tomatoes. Give plants support to prevent dragging fruit.
Blossom end rot is a disease whose symptoms are all in the name. When this problem is present on tomato plants, black spots appear near the blossom end of the fruit. The spots may appear to be black holes, though usually the tomato skin will remain unbroken. Tomato fruits become deformed and distorted in many ways, which may include holes in the skin, when catfacing occurs. Catfacing is a disease that only occurs when cool weather affects pollination of the plants; keep tomatoes warm to prevent it. Treat fungal and bacterial diseases with fungicide.
Many small insects may eat holes in tomato fruits and leaves. Tomato fruitworms and tobacco budworms chew fruits and buds. Tomato pinworms bore inside fruits and stems, creating holes where they enter the tomato plant. Tomato plants attract many insects. Deter them with regular, preventive pesticide treatments. Planting insect-repelling plants near tomatoes also helps keep these harmful bugs away.
Deer, rabbits, squirrels and other wildlife will eat tomatoes if and when they have access, nibbling on fruits, foliage and stems. Wildlife will return to food sources again and again, and gardeners must take strong measures to deter these pests and keep them out of the garden. Fencing and scent repellents are effective in keeping these large pests away from tomato plants and other garden areas.
- NC State University Extension: Pests of Tomato
- Northern Gardening; Growing Healthy Tomatoes; Terry L. Yockey
- Colorado State University Cooperative Extension; Tomato Insect Pests; Whitney Cranshaw
- Colorado State University Extension; Recognizing Tomato Problems; B. Edmunds, et al.; May 2009
- Old House Web: Protecting Plants And Gardens From Deer And Rabbits