ASK THE MASTER GARDENERS
Something is eating my dill and cucumber plants. What might that be? Are tomatoes safe from these pests?
Some pests are generalists, but most attack a specific type of plant. It’s ideal to observe or capture a pest for identification. Next best is to describe the damage. Short of ideal we’re left with guesswork, but let’s try.
When dill is young and succulent the usual suspect is the larva (caterpillar) of the black swallowtail butterfly. Many people would happily share their dill (and parsley) with these beautiful creatures.
Often insects are attracted to very specific plants or families of plants. Striped cucumber beetles may be bothering your cucumber plants. Or squash bugs could be the culprits as both vegetables are in the same family (cucurbits).
Tomatoes are in an entirely different plant family, Solanacea or nightshades. A pest of tomatoes might also be attacking potatoes and peppers, for example, but probably not dill and cucumbers. So it’s unlikely that your tomatoes are in danger from the insects eating the other plants.
Nancy Ross, master gardener with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Westchester