How to Get Rid of Tomato Pests

Tomato Pests

Tomato Pests
Tomato Pests
There is nothing like the arrival of tomato pests to turn a healthy tomato plant into a bunch of shriveling leaves and end your hopes for a bountiful tomato harvest. If, however you take some preventative measures, examine your plants for tomato pests frequently, and control infestations quickly, you can win the battle and have some tasty home-grown tomatoes to harvest.

Tomato pests come in many forms. Aphids are tiny little green or brown insects that excrete a honey-like substance on tomato plant leaves while eating new growth. Insecticidal soaps and dusts such as rotenone can prevent damage. Ladybugs are also a natural predator of aphids. Hornworms, fruit worms and other caterpillars can cause severe damage to both tomato plant leaves, stem and fruit. They can be picked off in small quantities and destroyed. Larger infestations will require the use of preventative insecticides or biological Bacillus spray to control the problem.

Cutworms are a spring problem that usually occurs shortly after seedlings have been planted. The ultimate control for cutworms is very simple and does not involve chemicals. Simply place a cutworm collar on each tomato plant when you transplant it and this problem can be entirely avoided. Cutworm collars can be made of newspaper or plastic, and should be placed on the stem of the tomato plant to cover it for approximately two inches-- an inch above the soil and an inch below the soil.

Other tomato pests include leaf miners, white flies, and spider mites. All of these need preventative insecticides to eliminate them. Leaf miners are little worm-like pests that make their way into the middle of the leaves, entering between layers. They start out on the bottom leaves of the tomato plant and work their way up to the top leaves. White flies are tiny white flies that fly around as if startled whenever you go near the tomato plant they are feeding upon. To get rid of them, use insecticidal soap, Pyrethrum, Rotenone, garlic oil or sticky yellow traps. Spider mites are teensy little insects that can barely be seen with the human eye. You are more apt to see the little web-type strands that they use to travel from one place to another. Once again, insecticidal soaps or sprays are the answer to controlling this little pest.

Insecticides are also the answer to getting rid of stinkbugs and Thrips, two other tomato pests that can ruin a good crop. Stinkbugs have mouths that can pierce plant leaves, causing spots to develop on the tomato plants. These will eventually lead to deformed tomatoes of inferior quality. Thrips suck the juice out of healthy tomato plant leaves, leaving silver-looking spots, and causing catfacing and fruit drop.

Other methods of controlling tomato pests include tilling your tomato plants under in the fall and crop rotation. Failure to do so can cause loss of foliage and poor quality fruit. The key to enjoying those fresh, juicy tomatoes you are growing in the fall means checking plants often for tomato pests and taking preventative action.

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