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My guess is you're getting worms or beetles (I bet worms) in some tomatoes and early birds are tearing them up to get at them. You're probably not associating birds in the garden with doing the damage but they do. Once they find a cache of insects on one tomato they might continue to do a little damage in hopes of getting lucky.
One possibility if your tomatoes are 12 inches or less above ground level. Terrapins/Box turtles. They take big bites out tomatoes and and cantaloupes that look like a human chomped it. More trouble for me on cantaloupes as I cage most tomatoes. Slugs can also take out large sections, but the damage is sufficiently different to identify them. Bird damage is rare, but distinctive pattern. Usually as long as birds have a water source they don't bother tomatoes.
Farmerdill, you are so right! Last year we had a box turtle living in the kudzu/canna patch (Sigh, kudzu) at church by the garden. He LOVED our tomatoes, so he got a few of the lowest ones until we figured him out and left him veggie scraps from the kitchen. Worked like a charm to fill his boxy belly and keep him out of the garden!
These tomatoes are all higher up and in raised beds. I do not think they are birds, my bird damage many years ago was total, they chopped at the vines to get through them and damaged everything in site.
These tomatoes were burried in the vines (which are also all caged). I think it must have been worms, or grasshoppers. I put BT on everything, including the tomatoes (powder form) thinking that it can't kill grasshoppers of course, but they would not like to touch the powder.
I just wish these tomatoes would hurry up! They are getting HUGE but ripening oh so slowly...
I didn't know grasshoppers ate tomatoes. I'd think if worms did that much damage you'd see the frass, unless it rained. I was thinking Farmerdill had the answer. We had a dog that loved tomatoes and would nibble them through the CRW cages or pull them off the vines. I am now thinking it might be mice or rats. They love tomatoes and are nighttime food gatherers.
There is a chance squirrels are eating them as well. I saw one running across my yard with a few. Another day he took some of my strawberries...I was forced to put out an offering in hopes they would leave my crops alone!
We don't have many squirrels! Tonight I hear something in my walls, chewing :( So I'm wondering if it's rats in the garden. Today two more tomatoes were well eaten up and two had army worms in 'em. So I brought in two tomatoes that were starting to show some color so they could ripen indoors...because I'm sick of not having my own freakin' tomatoes. Between people constantly asking me for tomatoes (and probably stealing some), the bugs, this thing eating...the only thing we've really had are a handful of sungolds!
I'm so spitting mad.
At least it seems to be an OK year for squash and melons!
You may have flying squirrels nesting in your walls. They chew up the framing and sheet rock (and electical, etc.). They can get in any hole the size of a quarter. Check around your house exterior for small holes in the vicinity you are hearing the interior noise. Make chicken wire cones with barbed edges sticking outward at the narrow end and stick the wider side in the holes. Either rats or squirrels, when they leave through the cone tunnel to feed at night they won't be able to reenter. If you need more instruction DM. They nest by day and feed at night. Regular squirrels feed by day and nest at night. Squirrel shifts!
Probably rats. We've had them before and my neighbor is complaining about them. I called the rat people today. Goodness knows HOW they got in. We''ll they could get PARTLY in but not all the way. I had the entire inside of the attic completely meshed in with hardware cloth several years ago and since then everything has been completely sprayed down with insulating spray. They've had to run the gutter and be just under the shingle I guess, but even then, the area from gutter to shingle is covered in wire.
I'll let the pest man figure that one out. I do NOT do attics or crawl spaces and God forbid my husband would even go near it. He won't even go anywhere near the wall where I heard the chewing :)
If worst comes to worst the contractor who renovated the house will come and shoot the rat. He's shot them here before :) It is a pretty quick way of pest control!
I find out for sure tomorrow when our pest man comes, but I returned from a vacation to a STINKY house. I smell rodents, not the same smell as bats, that's for sure. Goodness, I hope I can get the pest man to spray de-stinkifier up in the attic for me for a little extra bonus. I don't do attics (especially attics constantly besieged with critters!!) We've heard some scratching in the walls too, so I think it is something fairly small (rat!) but my neighbors think the critters in the garden are raccoons. We've kept (or tried to) a nice coating of BT on almost all the tomatoes, and that seems to work OK, however when the tomato begins to turn red, it's a sign of food so there's a big ol' bite out of it the next day. If we keep them picked off when they turn slightly red, I'm good (but laden with trays and windows lined with tomatoes! The culprit steals or bites into every melon that has a sweet scent, and has scoffed some winter squash - but only those that sort of resemble the melons we've been growing...
So on our list of "must haves" are some nice walk-in growing cages for blueberries, melons and tomatoes!