Deterring mystery pest from eating my tomatoes: New Updates

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This is not the first time visitors have stolen tomatoes from my garden, but this year the mystery pest has gotten every ripe tomato I have grown this year, which given out cold/wet summer has only been about a dozen ripe tomatoes.  I normally go with the philosophy of this land is owned by my neighborhood animals first and I am fine sharing a tomato, some lettuce, and a few blueberries, but with the end of the season coming closer and less tomatoes left on the vines…I am going to war with the hungry critter.

This evening I applied a liberal amount of Critter Ridder from Havahart following the directions on the packaging.  Instead of trying to describe the product I will defer to marketing material to describe products I use since that is what they get paid the big bucks for.

This powerful combination of active, all-natural ingredients work together to irritate the animal immediately if it smells, tastes or touches the product. This unpleasant experience drives the animal away unharmed but unwilling to return to the treated area. 

Our patented formula effectively repels groundhogs, skunks, dogs, cats, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks and other nuisance animals.

So hoping my pest happens to one of the animals that hates the stuff.   I applied this per the directions around my tomato beds and the lawn surrounding the bed.  For good measure I also applied a little on a tomato they were too full to finish on their last visit.  From previous observations I have found they are good about cleaning on the previous nights meal.  Given the active ingredients contain black pepper oil and capsaicin (what makes peppers hot) given we are the only known species that will voluntarily eat these spices pretty sure the animal will not appreciate my seasoning of their leftovers from the previous night.

To once and for all confirm the pest I am dealing with I have setup my OutbackCam night camera to catch any returning visitors on film…hopefully I only catch them once after they have a taste of my spicy tomato I cooked up for them.

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Nightly Updates

Night #1: Mystery pest returned, though moved the tomatoes around but did not eat much of his leftovers.  Was a bit of a ninja and not captured on camera.

Night #2: Again the mystery pest returned and ate a little more but again did not trigger a picture

Night #3: Got a picture triggered but mystery pest must have some sort of invisibility cloak on because I do not see it in the picture.  Planning on moving the camera back a little farther from the fence (or possibly turn on an outside light) since the IR LEDs seem to a little intense at that distance.  Again the pest played with the tomatoes but didn’t seem to eat much (if any) and has not bothered any of the other tomatoes in the vine.

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9 Responses to “Deterring mystery pest from eating my tomatoes: New Updates”

  1. GardenDmpls Says:

    Looks like my tomatoes that are picked by a squirrel I caught early one morning. I have used my own concoction of hot peppers, garlic and oil with a lot of success before, but since it is just one squirrel and he only takes one a day (he prefers the green ones), I decided that this year I will live with it. Keeping the bird feeder full (he can’t get up to it, but there is plenty of spillage) and some drinking water out in the other end of the yard away from the garden helps a lot.

    By the way, if the tomato is on the ground, but still attached to the vine, slugs and bugs can do that damage also, and amazingly fast, too.


  2. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    GardenDmpls, well this one seems to wait until the tomatoes just get ripe…it was feeling a little impatient with these yellow ones. Looking forward to some salsa if my pest will share a couple with me…


  3. Adele Says:

    Good luck, I hope you catch the critter.


  4. Katie Says:

    Mockingbirds can do that kind of damage as well. I caught them red-handed (or winged) in my garden pecking holes in my ripe tomatoes and drinking the liquid. It’s been really dry here in TN, so I think they were looking for water. Netting over the tomatoes took care of the problem.


  5. Forsythkid Says:

    I could have sent you one of my home cooked meals and saved you some money.That’s the exact same effect it had on my last dinner guest.

    Hope you get the little guy on film!


  6. ababeinthegarden Says:

    you should do this when you first plant your tomato plant outside, but this might give him a surprise even now. Hang some red Christmas tree balls out on it. See if that doesnt discourage him. Hope it helps.


  7. Delora Says:

    I’ve been having a problem with ants of all things. Slugs or something will leave a small hole, then the ants invade and devour the fruit.


  8. Scott Says:

    If you have a pest issue submit a question along with a photo at http://www.wiltedleaf.com the community will help you out


  9. Bill Says:

    This looks an awful lot like Tomato Hornworm damage. This also would explain why you were not able to capture an image of the “critter” 😉

    I had a problem with them last year. I had to go out at night with a flashlight to find them as they hide under the leaves during the daytime.

    They are extremely difficult to see as they blend in with the foliage.

    Once found, remove them by hand (or tweezers) and drop them in a can of soapy water to drown them.

    If you find any with white parasitic wasp eggs on them, leave them alone, as the eggs will hatch and help you out 😉

    Here’s a link with more info:
    http://www.vegedge.umn.edu/vegpest/hornworm.htm


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