Today, I've compiled a list of some of the various pests common to tomatoes that can affect plant health and reduce yields. Below is a list of common tomato pests, if you have new ideas or know how to better prevent and repel these pests, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.
These pests are varied and accompanied by pictures, so you won't be unfamiliar with them if you encounter them in your tomato garden! It's too early to get to know them, but I really can't wait to grow a yard full of tomatoes soon!
Small, soft-bodied insects that feed on sap from the leaves, causing distortion and yellowing.Aphids can transmit plant viruses.
Tiny, white insects that feed on the undersides of leaves.
They can cause yellowing, wilting, and the transmission of plant viruses.
Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata):
Large, green caterpillars with a horn-like protrusion on their rear end.
Hornworms can defoliate plants rapidly.
Colorado Potato Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata):
Oval-shaped beetles with yellow and black stripes.
Both larvae and adults feed on tomato foliage, causing significant damage.
Spider Mites (Tetranychidae):
Tiny arachnids that suck sap from plant cells, leading to stippling and yellowing of leaves.
They thrive in hot and dry conditions.
Flea Beetles (Chrysomelidae):
Small, jumping beetles that chew tiny holes in leaves.Damage is more noticeable on young plants.
Cutworms (Noctuidae family):
Nocturnal caterpillars that cut through plant stems at soil level.
They can cause seedlings to collapse.
Slim, tiny insects that feed on leaves, causing silvering and distortion.
Thrips can transmit viruses and affect fruit quality.
Larvae that tunnel through leaves, creating winding trails or "mines."
While not always a major threat, heavy infestations can weaken plants.
Stink Bugs (Pentatomidae):
Shield-shaped bugs that feed on fruit, causing damage and deformation.
They can transmit pathogens.
Tomato Fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea):
Larvae feed on tomato fruit, causing damage and reducing yield.
They are also known as corn earworms.
Larvae of click beetles that feed on plant roots and can damage young seedlings.
Snails and Slugs (Gastropoda):
Mollusks that feed on young seedlings and fruit, leaving behind slime trails.
They are more active in damp conditions.
Is your head spinning reading this, and I hope these bugs haven't put you off growing tomatoes. Capturing and controlling pests on tomato plants requires a combination of preventative measures, monitoring and targeted interventions. Here are some strategies for capturing and controlling common tomato pests:
For larger pests like tomato hornworms and Colorado potato beetles, inspect plants regularly and handpick the insects. Wear gloves if necessary.
Drop the pests into a bucket of soapy water to prevent them from returning to the garden.
Use sticky traps or yellow sticky cards to catch flying insects like whiteflies and thrips.
Place traps strategically around the garden, especially near vulnerable plants.
Beer Traps for Slugs:
Sink containers filled with beer into the soil to attract and drown slugs.
Empty and refill the traps regularly.
Floating Row Covers:
Covering young plants with floating row covers can protect them from flying insects like flea beetles.
Ensure the covers are securely anchored to prevent pests from accessing the plants.
Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, or predatory beetles that feed on pests.
Plant companion plants that attract beneficial insects to the garden.
Neem Oil and Insecticidal Soap:
Use neem oil or insecticidal soap as organic pesticides to control soft-bodied pests like aphids and spider mites.
Apply according to package instructions, ensuring thorough coverage.
Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around plants to deter crawling insects.
The sharp particles damage the exoskeleton of pests.
Homemade Garlic or Chili Pepper Sprays:
Create a homemade spray using crushed garlic or chili peppers mixed with water to deter certain pests.
Strain the mixture and spray on plants, reapplying after rain.
Rotate crops annually to disrupt pest life cycles.
Keep the garden area clean by removing debris and weeds that can harbor pests.
Plant companion crops that repel or distract pests. For example, planting marigolds can deter nematodes.
Basil and nasturtiums are known to repel certain pests.
Encourage Natural Predators:
Create an environment that attracts natural predators, such as birds and predatory insects.
Avoid using broad-spectrum pesticides that can harm beneficial insects.
Inspect plants regularly for signs of pests, including leaf damage, discoloration, or the presence of pests.
Early detection allows for prompt intervention.
Remember to choose control methods based on the specific pests present and consider the impact on beneficial insects. A combination of these strategies, along with good gardening practices, can help keep pest populations in check and promote a healthy tomato garden.