Do Deer Eat Tomatoes Off The Vine?

Deer are known to be voracious eaters and can cause significant damage to gardens and crops, including tomatoes. Tomatoes, being a delicious and nutritious food source, are particularly attractive to deer and can be easily eaten off the vine if proper precautions are not taken. Know the factors that contribute to deer eating tomatoes, as well as various prevention methods that can be used to deter them.

Factors that contribute to deer eating tomatoes

  1. Natural diet of deer: Deer are herbivores and primarily eat vegetation such as leaves, twigs, and berries. In areas where natural food sources are scarce, deer will often turn to gardens and crops as an alternative food source.
  2. Availability of other food sources: If other food sources, such as acorns, berries, or other fruits, are scarce, deer may be more likely to target tomato plants.
  3. Proximity to deer habitats: If tomato plants are located near deer habitats, such as wooded areas or fields, they may be more vulnerable to deer predation.
  4. Hunger and reproduction season: During the rutting season, bucks may exhibit a higher level of aggression, including eating from gardens and during the winter months, when food sources are scarce, deer will forage for food in residential areas.
  5. Lack of natural predators: In areas where natural predators of deer, such as wolves, are not present, deer populations may be higher and more likely to cause damage to gardens and crops.

It’s important to note that deer behavior can vary depending on the region and the specific population of deer. Understanding the specific habits and behaviors of the deer in your area can help you better target and deter them from eating your tomatoes.

Prevention methods

  1. Physical barriers: Fencing is one of the most effective methods for preventing deer from accessing tomato plants. A fence should be at least 8 feet tall, and made of a sturdy material such as wood or metal. Netting can also be used to protect individual plants or small groups of plants.
  2. Repellents: Repellents can be used to discourage deer from approaching and eating tomato plants. These include both organic and chemical options. Organic options include using human or animal hair, soap, or garlic spray as a repellent. Chemical options include commercial repellents that contain ingredients such as putrescent whole egg solids or capsaicin.
  3. Habitat modification: Reducing the amount of nearby vegetation that deer rely on can make your tomato plants less attractive to them. Clearing brush and tall grass around your garden can discourage deer from staying nearby.
  4. Companion planting: Planting certain plants near tomatoes that deer do not like can deter them from approaching. Examples of such plants include marigolds, daffodils, and alliums.
  5. Motion sensor and Noise: Motion sensor activated lights or noise-making devices can help to scare deer away from tomato plants.

It’s important to note that no single method is guaranteed to completely deter deer, so a combination of different techniques is often recommended. Additionally, it’s important to remember that deer populations and their behavior can change over time, so it’s a good idea to regularly reassess and adjust your prevention methods as needed.


In conclusion, deer can cause significant damage to tomato plants by eating them off the vine. Factors that contribute to this behavior include the natural diet of deer, the availability of other food sources, proximity to deer habitats, hunger and reproduction season, and lack of natural predators.

To deter deer from eating tomatoes, a combination of different prevention methods should be used. These include physical barriers, such as fencing and netting, repellents, habitat modification, companion planting, motion sensor and noise-making devices. It is important to understand the specific habits and behaviors of the deer in your area to effectively deter them.

Regularly reassessing and adjusting prevention methods as needed is also essential. These steps will help to protect your tomato plants and ensure a successful harvest.