Many different pests like to munch on tomatoes—and who can blame them? There’s no denying that homegrown tomatoes are ridiculously flavourful!
In the garden, tomatoes are susceptible to various pests, which may require you to fight several battles before enjoying the fruits of your labour. With these tips, however, it can be easy. We’ve outlined our best practices in this blog to help keep your tomatoes thriving all season. Here are the most common tomato pests, how to spot them, and tips for treating them.
Spotting Pests In Your Garden
To identify what’s eating your tomato plants at night, check for any marks on them. The following signs can signify tomato pests are at work:
- Insect tracks are on leaves or fruits, or the leaves are partially eaten or have holes in them.
- Aphids, weevils, or caterpillars, including their eggs or larvae, are visible on or near plants.
- Seedlings are “disappearing” or have been eaten to the ground
- Light discoloured patches on leaves or fruit.
- White sticky residue on the leaves.
If you spot any of these, it’s worth investigating in your garden to find the culprit and treat them accordingly.
These pests are tiny gray or brown caterpillars with black or yellow spots that eat large holes in your plants at night. At nighttime, go out with a flashlight and handpick the worms off your tomato plants, tossing them into a trash bag. Proceed to follow up with a generous coating of organic insecticidal soap. Crop rotation is also an effective way to prevent them from returning the following year.
These tiny pests can come in many different colours, but they’re most easily identified by the sticky substance they leave behind. Aphids suck out the moisture from plant leaves, and their waste causes that sticky residue—yuck! To treat these pests, coat the top and bottom of your plant’s leaves with a natural insecticide and do a follow-up application every three days until the problem is resolved. An expert at your local garden center will be able to point you towards an array of options that will send the aphids in your garden packing!
Flea beetles are shiny dark brown or black pests measuring 1/10 of an inch that love to chew on tomato foliage, but they also carry many harmful diseases. Spreading diatomaceous earth across the soil surface helps keep them away, and crop rotation will prevent recurring problems. Sticky traps are also a great quick fix to treat these pests in your garden.
These big, chunky green worms measure up to 3 inches long, with subtle white stripes and spots that look like tiny eyes. Their colour helps them blend with plant foliage, so they aren’t as easy to spot as you might think. Picking them off and coating your tomato plants with insecticide is the best method to treat these pests.
Slugs and Snails
While they may look harmless, these slimy bugs can chew big holes in your tomato foliage! Placing beer traps is a great way to get rid of them—hide little saucers across the soil surface and fill them with beer. These slimy pests are attracted to the scent but will drown once they climb into the saucer.
Deer, Skunks, and More
Not all the pests interested in munching on your tomatoes are insects; nocturnal predators like tomato plants include skunks, rats, raccoons, and deer. They may not deliberately seek tomatoes, but if they find them close to the ground and within their reach, it will definitely be an item on their dinner menu. Put up motion-detection night lights in your yard, install an electric fence, or use dog or predator urine to scare them away. It sounds unpleasant, but it works!
For more information on controlling tomato pests in your garden, visit us at Mother Nature Garden Centre in Powell River, BC, today! Whatever your plant needs are, we are ready and happy to help!