Common tomato pests

30th May, 2020
Common tomato pests

 

 

 

 

Tomato pests can cause a lot of damage to your tomato plants if left unchecked. The first step towards managing these pests is correct identification. It is advisable you monitor your plants daily. Check leaves, stems and fruit for the symptoms. A number of tomato insects can cause havoc on your tomato farm. Today we will look at the most common pests in tomatoes.

Aphids

These are common pests in the tomato field. They are small, soft-bodied, green, grey or black insects with thin legs. They appear as dense clusters of tiny insects on tips of the plant shoots. They cause injury by sucking sap from the plant thereby reducing the plant vigour. Aphids can also transmit viral diseases that can severely reduce yield and quality.

Crush the pests with your thumb if the infestation is small. Pluck off the infested foliage in cases where the infestation is dense and bury it to minimise reinfection. Beneficial insects such as ladybugs can be released in the field to feed on the insects. If the infestation persists then use of insecticidal soap is recommended. The insects could also be knocked from plants using a water jet from the hose. Use of other insecticides should be used as the last resort.

Cutworms

These are the tiny grub-like caterpillars which live in the soil during the day and feed on young plant stems at night. The worm attacks the plant by cutting the base causing the plant to collapse. Prevent damage by placing collars around seedlings. You can make these of paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie plate about 10 inches long and four high, bent to form a circle or cylinder and stapled.

Sink the collars about an inch into the soil around individual seedlings, letting three inches show above the ground to deter high-climbers. Cutworms are only active at night, so go out after dark with a torch and check for caterpillars at work. Control with evening sprays of bacillus thuringiensis, spinosad, diazinon, cyfluthrin, or pyrethrin.

Root-Knot Nematodes

This is one of the most serious problems in tomatoes. This particular species invades the plant, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and carry out photosynthesis. The key to treating these pests on tomatoes is sanitation. Sterilise your tools, boots and gloves. Remove as much of the infected surrounding soil as possible.

Nematodes can also be controlled by rotating tomatoes with crops that are not vulnerable to the same problem. Avoid planting tomatoes in fields that have been previously planted with pepper, egg pant and potatoes. If you ever pull a plant that has odd-looking lumpy growths on its roots, contact your local extension officer or an agronomist to look at it. Soil sterilisation can also be used to control nematodes although it is toxic and expensive. By sterilising the soil, it is possible that you kill other beneficial organisms in the soil.

Whiteflies

The insects can kill off tomato plants if they are not identified and controlled early. They feed on the underside of tomato leaves, sucking out sap and weakening the plant. Affected leaves begin to yellow and die, the leaf margins usually curl inward as damage progresses. Continuous feeding can leave a tomato plant prone to sooty mold and viruses spread by the pests. Early control can prevent damage, to allow tomatoes grow and ripen normally. To control the flies control weeds in the garden. Old plant debris provides a breeding ground for whiteflies.

Use silver coloured plastic mulch to repel the white flies. Spray infested tomato plants with insecticidal soap, concentrating the spray on the underside of the leaves where white flies congregate and breed. Repeat the application every three days until no more white flies are present. Spray in the evening to minimise contact with beneficial insects.

Install yellow whitefly sticky traps around the base of plants to control the adult population and minimise breeding. Replace the traps when they lose their stickiness or if they become covered in flies. Introduce lady bugs or lacewing larvae into the garden to feed on the white flies. Predator insects may migrate before they destroy the entire pest population. Use insects only in combination with other control methods.

our partners