What is likely eating the foliage off my small tomatoes?

This has happened before. Maybe if I go out at night with a flashlight I will catch the culprits, but right now I can only speculate. I usually buy a 6 pack of Early Girl and plant about 3 weeks into March, sometimes earlier sometimes later depending on the weather.
This year they only had 4" potted plants, so I bought 6 of those and planted them 6 days ago in soil in which I'd worked in a lot of my homemade compost. There were certainly lots of earwigs and sow bugs in that compost, and plenty of earth worms. There are certainly slugs in there too.
I was so busy yesterday I didn't get a chance to check out the plants, but this morning to my dismay I see that 1/2 to 3/4 of the foliage has been eaten from the plants! I'd put snail and slug pellets around the plants and sprayed some water to activate them. I also sprinkled some diazinon I've had for a number of years. I think it's unavailable now. I only use it on seedlings when plants are vulnerable. The diazinon is so old it may have lost its effectiveness, it wouldn't surprise me.
I made collars today out of thin sheet metal, and put more pellets and diazinon granules around the bases of the seedlings, also I sprayed them with Safer Soap. What is likely eating the plants and what can I do to prevent further damage? I was hoping to see bigger plants by now, not smaller!
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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It sounds like you think it's snails, or slugs, if so, you need ferric phosphate (usually called iron phosphate) which is used as a food supplement for humans, but is extremely toxic to gastropods (snails, and slugs).
--

Billy

E Pluribus Unum
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On Thu, 08 Mar 2012 17:47:15 -0800, Billy
: :> This has happened before. Maybe if I go out at night with a flashlight I :> will catch the culprits, but right now I can only speculate. I usually :> buy a 6 pack of Early Girl and plant about 3 weeks into March, sometimes :> earlier sometimes later depending on the weather. :> :> This year they only had 4" potted plants, so I bought 6 of those and :> planted them 6 days ago in soil in which I'd worked in a lot of my :> homemade compost. There were certainly lots of earwigs and sow bugs in :> that compost, and plenty of earth worms. There are certainly slugs in :> there too. :> :> I was so busy yesterday I didn't get a chance to check out the plants, :> but this morning to my dismay I see that 1/2 to 3/4 of the foliage has :> been eaten from the plants! I'd put snail and slug pellets around the :> plants and sprayed some water to activate them. I also sprinkled some :> diazinon I've had for a number of years. I think it's unavailable now. I :> only use it on seedlings when plants are vulnerable. The diazinon is so :> old it may have lost its effectiveness, it wouldn't surprise me. :> :> I made collars today out of thin sheet metal, and put more pellets and :> diazinon granules around the bases of the seedlings, also I sprayed them :> with Safer Soap. What is likely eating the plants and what can I do to :> prevent further damage? I was hoping to see bigger plants by now, not :> smaller! :> :> Dan :> :> :> Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net : :It sounds like you think it's snails, or slugs, if so, you need ferric :phosphate (usually called iron phosphate) which is used as a food :supplement for humans, but is extremely toxic to gastropods (snails, and :slugs).
I really don't know what's been eating them. I did see a slimy trail near one of the plants, which suggests a slug. I don't think it was a snail because I don't see them often in the area anymore. Could be slugs, though, but I only saw that one trail. Can earwigs or sow bugs defoliate a very young tomato plant?
I did put snail and slug pellets around he plants, as I stated above. What I did didn't prevent the damage, however. I put more on today, as well as the collars, and in addition sprayed Safer Soap, don't know what's the best approach, so I'm using a shot gun approach. Wish I know what's doing this.
Dan
Email: dmusicant at sonic dot net
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It can be tomato worms or horn worms or cutworms. They eat leaves and they have the color of the stems and may be they are on the stems. Picking them off is the way to remove them. A nail spike beside the plant repels cutworms. Some garlic cloves can repel some bugs. The seven dust is good. Plant garlic cloves by your tomato plants to get rid of the worms. Check for some tiny grasshopper, they can also be a culprit. Put some black pepper on the leaf to get rid of grasshopper. Good Luck
--
allen73


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Worst/dumbest idea that I've seen for quite sometime. <http://www.grandcountywater.com/CarbarylInsecticideHazardData.htm The active ingredient in SEVIN is Carbaryl, which is very nasty stuff. It is a neurotoxin that will kill pests, beneficial insects, pets, children, and you. You definitly don't want it on food.
What is it with gardenbanter? Rude posters, and bad advice is what the WORLD sees from them.

--

Billy

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I'd suspect the horn worms too. They blend right into the plant and are sometimes hard to see. I pluck them off and also spray to pickup those I missed.
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Dan Musicant said:

Good plan; go out at night with a flashlight and a sprayer with soap solution. I'd be willing to place a (small) bet that its earwigs, since you reported seeing some.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI

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wrote:
:Dan Musicant said: :> :> :>This has happened before. Maybe if I go out at night with a flashlight I :>will catch the culprits, but right now I can only speculate. : :Good plan; go out at night with a flashlight and a sprayer with soap :solution. I'd be willing to place a (small) bet that its earwigs, since you :reported seeing some.
My money's on the earwigs too, I needed some confirmation that they can do this kind of damage. The lack of slug trails on the stems and leaves has me thinking that it's not likely slugs. I think maybe the diazinon I sprinked on the ground next to the stems is so old (5-7 years?) that it's lost effectiveness.
I went out about 1.5 hours after dark with a flashlight, saw nothing, again at 4AM or so, nothing. This morning the plants look pretty much like yesterday, so maybe the collars and the extra sprinking of diazinon has abated the invasion.
Thanks for the feedback!
Dan
Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
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says...

http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?p297&cat=2,51555
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By now you've probably solved your problem.
But...
If the slug bait hasn't worked then...
Has anyone mentioned Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (BTK)?
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