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I have discussed tomato growing in one of my earlier articles. This article is more about various pest problems which we face while growing tomatoes. So in this post, I am going to share with you the top 9 tomato pests that may prevent you from getting your desired tomato yields.
These are the most dangerous pests that affect your tomato plants though not in the same order.
9 Deadliest Pests For Your Tomato Plants
These are very small insects that are found on the leaves or the stems of the plant. They pierce veins, stems, growing tips, and blossoms with their needlelike mouthparts.
Though one or two of them may not cause any major harm to the plant, once the numbers grow they create problems like curly leaves or yellowing of the plant or leave some sticky residue on the plant.
Aphids are wingless. These soft-bodied insects can be ⅛-inch long and have a pair of cornicles. They spread rapidly from field to field and cause a number of viral diseases.
2. Stink Bugs & Leaf-footed Bugs:
The bugs are shield-shaped, ¾ inch in length.
The bugs pierce tomato plants with their needlelike mouthparts and suck sap from the plant. The damage will vary depending on the growth stage of the plant. If the infected fruits are not matured they become deformed as they develop.
These tiny caterpillars suck the juice out of the tomato plants. The attack young plant stems during the night. Severe attack results in a chewed stem which can easily be seen on an infected plant.
One of the simplest solutions to the cutworm problem is to place collars made of paper, aluminum foil around the seedlings. Place the collars about an inch into soil around individual seedlings, and at least three inches show above the ground. This will deter high-climbers.
These are cylindrical in shape and greenish in color. You would find them underside of leaves. They have a voracious appetite and can eat up most of the plant in a couple of days.
The distinguishing feature of this larvae is a curved and red hornlike structure that projects from a posterior abdominal segment of the body.
Hornworms larvae strip leaves from the tomato plants, and also feed on the developing fruits. As they feed on the surface, they leaving large, open scars on the fruits.
Hornworm infestation is generally common in midsummer.
Hornworms feed primarily on solanaceous plants. So other than the tomato plants you will also find hornworms in plants like tobacco, eggplant, pepper, etc.
They are also called Flea-beetles as they resemble a flea. Adult beetle attacks the foliage and leave with numerous small holes. The larvae feed on the tomato roots.
Though I have mentioned it as a tomato pest, it can also cause damage to cabbage, potatoes, eggplants, etc. If your plant is being affected by beetles you will find numerous small holes in the leaves. Generally, the damage is not very severe and you can easily control the spread.
The adult psyllid is a small insect and is about 3 mm long. They have white or yellowish markings on the thorax, clear wings, and lines on the abdomen between segments. Psyllids lay tiny eggs on stalks, on the underside of leaves, and along leaf margins.
Within 10-15 days nymphs hatch from those eggs. You can easily distinguish the nymphs from whitefly nymphs from their appearance. As the older nymphs are greenish and fringed with hairs and have wing buds.
The nymphs are the deadliest stage for your tomato plants. They feed on leaves of the plant and during feeding inject a toxin that causes death in transplants, stunting, chlorosis, and curling of leaves in pre-flowering plants. It can completely stop fruit production or the overproduction of very small, useless fruits in larger plants.
Purplish veins in the leaves of the tomato plants confirm psyllid infection.
7. Spider Mites:
Spider mites are quite common in tomato plants. They form webs on the underside of the plant.
The infestation generally starts on the lower leaf surface and then moves on to the upper leaf surface.
You will find small patches on the leaves and the leaves will become pale. If the infestation is severe, you will see webbing at the ends of branches. This may also cause defoliation of your tomato plants.
Dispose of highly infected branches or replace the plant to avoid spreading.
The nematode problem is one of the most problematic areas of tomato growing. Nematodes are tiny (often microscopic) little worms that infest the soil. Among all the known species of nematodes, root-knot nematodes are the most common form of nematodes that affect tomato growth.
They interrupt the normal process of taking water and other nutrients in tomato plants through the roots by burrowing into them. As a result, you will see various knobs in the roots of the plant.
Controlling nematodes can be a bit tricky. This is because not all nematodes harm your plants rather there are many nematode species that actually help your plants to thrive, and you don’t want to kill them. We have a separate article on nematodes and their control see that for information on how to stop root-knot nematode affecting your tomato plants.
Silverleaf whiteflies are common pests of tomato plants. These are small whitish-yellow insects that feed on plant juices and leave behind a sticky residue.
The flies lay 80-100 whitish eggs on the undersides of new leaves. From these eggs glassy to opaque yellow nymphs (immature stage) emerge.
Whiteflies damage tomato plants in two ways. Firstly, both adults and nymphs suck up the plant sap. This can cause leaf wilting in tomato plants. Secondly, the sticky residues left by those flies become nests for fungi.
The whiteflies also carry and spread many viral diseases.
How to Prevent The Tomato Pests:
There are several ways to fight tomato pests.
You can try spraying water or organic mixtures such as Neem oil, garlic extracts. Neem cakes can do wonders to fight pests. They are one of the best solutions to control nematodes.
Some of the pests you can easily remove just by picking them with your hands. Worms aphids are easily visible to the naked eyes and it should not be a problem to pick them manually.
Use crop rotation methods. It is a very handy tool to prevent pest infestation.
Grow companion plants along with your tomatoes. They will not only deter pests but can also help in increasing the overall production of your tomato plants.
There are many other organic controlling methods to prevent any pest infestation. We have shared the 12 most common organic ways of controlling pests in this article, try those out.
Don’t get tempted to opt for chemical pesticides they can cause chemical resistance in pests which will harm your tomato plants in the long run. So give organic methods a chance.
What is your experience in growing tomatoes? Are you facing any of the above-mentioned pests? Do let us know.
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You will find more interesting posts related to tomato growing on this site. Do check them if you are really serious about growing tomatoes.
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