Question: What happened to my tomato? There are a couple more like this on the vine, but only on this one plant. How did this happen? Did someone spray weed killer too close to my garden? Was my plant a GMO variety? Is this a bug or disease? Are the tomatoes safe to eat?

Answer: This is called cat facing, which is an abnormal growth at the blossom end of a tomato. It can be minor, like a slightly larger blossom scar or small bump like you found on your tomatoes, or the cat facing can be larger, like the other photos I’ve included.

There isn’t a lot of conclusive research on this problem, but the research has given us some pretty good suspects.

Could a weed killer have caused this? It’s possible but pretty unlikely. 2,4-D and other similar chemicals could cause this in very low doses, but you’ll usually also see symptoms on the leaves as well as on multiple plants and varieties.

A plant virus is sometimes responsible, but you should also see symptoms like stunted growth and curled, twisted or discolored leaves. Viruses can also affect the flavor of the tomatoes. They’re still safe to eat but usually not palatable.

Plant diseases and chemicals are the least likely suspects for your tomato problem, and there are other possible causes.

Gardening choices can play a role. Plants that have been over-fertilized with nitrogen can have more out-growths like these. If there is lots of vigorous leafy growth on the plant, that could be the cause.

Heavy pruning is also suspected of causing cat facing in some varieties.

Environmental issues can cause problems like this, as well. Cold weather, extreme heat, large differences between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and drought stress can all be factors.

Some varieties are more susceptible to abnormal fruit growth. However, heirloom and indeterminate varieties are more prone to the problem.

That doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite varieties. Tomatoes with cat facing may be more difficult to peel or prepare, but they’re still delicious and safe to eat.{span class=”print_trim”}

Question: Can you tell me what this is? I usually see them in a sink or near one.

Answer: The critter in your video is a Duff millipede. It’s a small, unusual millipede, only 1/8-inch long, and doesn’t resemble any of the common millipede you see in gardens.

You’ll see that this millipede has rows of short bristles across its body, tufts of hair along the sides of its body and a dense tuft of hair protruding from the hind end.

If you aren’t looking carefully you might mistake it for a carpet beetle larva or adult. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that it has many more legs than a carpet beetle, and thick tufts of hair on the hind end in addition to the rows of hairs on its body.

Just like their name suggests, Duff millipedes are usually found in duff, the moist decomposing layer of leaf litter — such as needles, twigs and other plant debris — that collects on the soil under trees and shrubs. They feed in this decomposing organic material.

When the trees and shrubs are near a building, some of the Duff millipedes can wander inside. They often find their way to moist areas like the sinks in bathrooms and kitchens.

You don’t need to worry that Duff millipedes are going to settle in at your house. They can be a nuisance, but they’re harmless and they can’t reproduce or survive long in a home.

There aren’t any effective insecticides that will reduce invasions of Duff millipedes, so your best control option is to control excess moisture in your landscape, keep the area around your foundation free of leaf litter and other plant debris and make sure you have good window screens, thresholds and weather stripping to make it harder for Duff millipedes to come in.

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