In this article, I’ll be giving you tips on how to get rid of bugs on tomato plants.
The joy of eating the sweet, fresh tomatoes you grew in your garden is immeasurable. But what do you do when your tomatoes are under attack by bugs?
The answer is pretty simple, you need to get rid of them. If you don’t have a clue on how to go about it, then keep reading.
What Pest Bugs Do To Your Tomato Plant
The damage caused to your tomato plant will be determined by the particular insect pest that attacks them. Aphids for instance sucks the sap off the plants, thereby collecting the vital but which your tomatoes need to grow.
Other bugs like tomato fruit worms will eat and damage the foliage of your tomatoes, leaving them unhealthy and sometimes dead.
The activities of these pest bugs on your tomato plants make the fruit unappealing and unhealthy to eat.
Common Bugs That Attack Tomato Plants
Many bugs would love to feast on your tomato plants, and if they are not controlled, your tomatoes will be damaged and unfit to eat.
Below is a list of common bugs you will most likely have to fight off your tomato plants.
Aphids aren’t just tomato plant pests, they attack every other day fruit plant you can think of.
They invade the fresh stems and leaves of your tomato plants and they leave a sticky honeydew while they’re at it.
The bad part is, the honeydew they leave behind attracts other insect pests to your tomatoes, causing even more damage along the line.
Blister beetles are ruthless eaters of tomato plant foliage. If they occur in large numbers, they can defoliate a whole tomato plant.
Flea beetles are another set of bugs you can expect to find in your tomato garden. They are fond of eating holes in your tomato leaves and this can cause young tomato plants to become stunted or even die.
Other common bugs that eat tomato plants include you mites, whiteflies, and tomato fruit worms.
How To Get Rid Of Tomato Bugs
It isn’t all bad news for your tomato plants, as there are several means which you can employ to get rid of these destructive bugs.
We will be discussing these methods below.
Notice The Signs Of Infestation
The very first step to eliminating bugs from your tomato plants would be to identify the infestation. You can only do this by carefully observing your plants.
Don’t just go to the garden, water the tomatoes, and leave. After watering, take a moment to observe the tomatoes and their leaves to be sure they are healthy.
If you notice patches of holes in your tomato plant leaves, or you notice some yellowish/brownish discoloration in the fruit itself, then it’s under attack by tomato-loving bugs.
Inspect all the tomato plants and identify the ones that have been affected. Many of these bugs love to hide under the leaves of the plant, so if you don’t look in that direction, you could miss them.
When you have identified the infested plants and discovered where the bugs are lodged, you can proceed with the next line of action.
Spray Them Off
If you notice a bunch of bugs hanging around the stems and leaves of your tomato plant, a quick fix would be to spray them off.
You can achieve this using a hose and a blast of water.
All you need to do is to get a hose long enough to reach each of the tomato plants and connect it to a source of fast-flowing water.
Walk around the garden and spray across all the affected plants. The stems and leaves should be your major target.
Spray on top and under the leaves, as there will be bugs hiding under them. Some bugs also lay their eggs on top of the leaves or in the corners of the stems, so you need to be thorough when blasting.
A good water down is an ideal method you can use to knock the bugs off your tomato plants. However, it is just a temporary fix, as the water blast will only dislodge, but not kill them.
They will be off your plants for the moment, but only a more thorough approach will ensure they don’t come back.
Use Natural Predators
What better way to fight destructive bugs than to have other creatures do the job for you? By introducing natural predators to your garden, you will be at peace knowing the plant-eating bugs are being eaten by something else.
You can buy as many lacewings or ladybugs as you need and introduce them to your tomato garden. They love feasting on aphids and other pest insects and they would do that as long as the pests invade your garden.
As for tomato fruit worms, some big species will gladly eat them up. You can buy such birds or attract them to your tomato garden by spreading some bird feed around.
The birds feed will attract them down, and they will come in contact with the worms. They’d appreciate the extra meal and eat the bugs up.
There’s an issue with using birds to get rid of bugs though, they will also eat the beneficial ladybugs if they come across them. This shouldn’t be too much of a concern though, as long as they eat the problematic bugs, then it’s mission accomplished.
Hand-Pick The Pests
If you’re dealing with tomato fruit worms, then you can remove them by simply handpicking them. These bugs grow to a mature height of about two inches, which is large enough for your fingers to grasp.
If you’re not one to make direct contact with insects, then you can put on a pair of gloves to keep your fingers from touching the worms. You will also need a transparent glass jar to place them as you pick.
Go round the plants in search of them and dispose of accordingly.
This may not be the fastest way to remove them from your tomato plants, but it will help reduce their population nonetheless.
Use Neem Oil
Neem oil is a strong natural substance that can affect the nervous system of many pest insects, as well as attack their growth hormones. It can also cause them to lose appetite for feeding and hinder their ability to lay eggs.
There are commercial neem-oil based insecticides that you can buy. All you need to do is apply the oil on the affected plants. You should also apply at the soil base of the plants, just in case they try to escape through the ground.
This is a more effective solution to pest bugs on your tomato plants. It is also eco-friendly, and will not harm the plants.
Make A Garlic/Cayenne Pepper Spray
Garlic remains a powerful weapon which you can use to fight off pest bugs from your tomato plants. It contains sulfur which irritates pests and a strong scent which they cannot stand.
To make a garlic/cayenne pepper spray, all you will need are some cloves of garlic, some cayenne pepper, some water, a container to mix, and a spray bottle.
Grind the garlic and cayenne pepper using a blender and add to a container of water. Stir the combination thoroughly and pour it into a spray bottle.
Visit the affected plants one by one and spray accordingly. Make sure the spray is properly applied to the stems and leaves of the tomato plants. Go around each stem and under the leaves, as the bugs may be hiding underneath.
After the water has evaporated, the garlic and the cayenne pepper will remain, and this will repel other bugs that plan to invade your plants.
A garlic/cayenne pepper solution is ideal because it is eco-friendly and non-toxic. It will not harm the tomatoes or other garden plants, and it is very safe for the user.
How To Prevent Bugs From Attacking Your Tomato Plants
There are simple steps you can take to prevent bugs from attacking your tomato plants.
You can start by planting pest-resistant varieties, as these are more immune to pest attacks. You should also practice keeping your garden areas clean. If you find any affected leaves or tomatoes, then prune them off and dispose of them to prevent a spread.
Some pest bugs lay their eggs just below the soil surface, when they hatch, the young larvae will make their way up the soil and your tomato plant.
To prevent them from ever seeing the light of day, you can mulch the soil around the tomatoes. The mulch should be about 2 inches thick and it should be well compacted so there will be no escape routes for the young bugs.
Tomatoes are best enjoyed when they are fresh and free of infestations. Follow the tips on how to get rid of bugs on tomato plants provided in this article.