6 Common Pests That Attack Tomatoes

If you’re a gardener, then you know all too well the frustration that comes with having your precious tomato plants attacked by pests. It seems like just as soon as you’ve planted your garden, the pests come out of nowhere to wreak havoc on your beautiful tomatoes. But fear not, for we have compiled a list of the top 6 pests that attack tomatoes, complete with tips on how to identify and combat them.

1. Aphids

Aphids are small pear-shaped insects with soft bodies. They come in various colors, including green, yellow, and black.

How They Feed and Damage

Aphids feed on tomato plants by piercing the veins, stems, growing tips, and blossoms with their needle-like mouthparts. This causes the blossoms to shed and reduces the yield of the plant.

Prevention and Control

To prevent aphid infestations on tomato plants, it is recommended to plant trap crops, use natural soap mixtures, spray water to wash them off, and attract predatory insects like ladybugs and hoverflies.

2. Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny pests that often go unnoticed. They are about 0.2mm in size and can be orange, brick, or dark red in color. They create webbing on tomato plants, making them difficult to control.

How They Feed and Damage

Spider mites feed on tomato plants by piercing leaf cell walls and sucking out the cell’s contents, causing bronzing or russeting of stems, leaves, and fruits. Damaged leaves may turn yellow, curl, wither, and fall from the plants. [11][12]

Prevention and Control

To prevent and control spider mites on tomato plants, it is important to keep the plants well hydrated and out of the hot sun. Regularly spraying the plants with water can help keep spider mites away. Other measures include using homemade sprays with hot pepper or garlic, applying diatomaceous earth, moving plants indoors if possible, and using black mulch to preserve soil moisture.

3. Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are large caterpillars that measure up to four inches in length. They are green in color with eight white V-shaped marks on their backs. They have a black projection or horn on their last abdominal segment.

How They Feed and Damage

Tomato hornworms feed on tomato plants by stripping the leaves and potentially attacking the fruits. They can cause significant damage to the plant’s foliage and reduce its overall productivity.

Prevention and Control

Preventing and controlling tomato hornworms can be achieved through various methods, such as manual removal, introducing natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings, using row covers, and practicing crop rotation.

4. Cutworms

Cutworms are smooth-skinned and can reach a size of 1 to 2 inches when fully grown. They curl up when disturbed and are mainly active at night.

How They Feed and Damage

Cutworms feed on tomato plants by cutting them off at the soil line, causing stand loss. They can also eat holes in tomato fruits, especially those touching the ground.

Prevention and Control

To prevent cutworm infestations, regularly till the soil, remove plant debris, and use collars around the base of the tomato plants. Additionally, monitoring and managing weeds in the surrounding area can help control cutworms.

5. Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails are common garden critters that might seem harmless and cute, but their eating habits can severely damage tomato plants.

How They Feed and Damage

Slugs and snails are voracious feeders that can eat a whole tomato in a day. They leave behind large holes in foliage and fruit, causing significant damage to tomato plants.

Prevention and Control

To prevent and control slugs and snails, it is important to eliminate hiding places, such as boards and debris, and use barriers like copper tape or diatomaceous earth. Hand-picking and trapping can also be effective methods.

6. Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are small, winged insects that are about 1.5 mm long. They have a pale white color and resemble tiny moths.

How They Feed and Damage

Fruit flies feed on tomato plants by laying eggs on the surface of the fruit, which then hatch into larvae. These larvae burrow into the fruit, causing damage and promoting decay.

Prevention and Control

To prevent and control fruit flies, you can try using natural methods such as setting up traps using vinegar or fruit juice, keeping your kitchen clean and free from rotting fruits, and covering your fruits with mesh or plastic wrap.

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