Tuesday, August 22, 2017

5 Insects That Can Destroy Your Tomatoes

What Are Those Insects?


1. Cutworms



What are they:

Cutworms feed at night on seedlings. They “cut” or eat through the stem at soil level or an inch or less above the soil. Cutworms aren’t exactly worms — they are the larvae of certain moths. They only emerge at night and can be difficult to spot. Cutworms kill tomato plants by snipping them right in half.

What to do about them:

Prevent cutworm damage by making a paper collar that fits around your seedlings. Just take newspaper or cardboard and fold it into an inch-wide strip. Use tape to make a collar around the plant, leaving about two to three inches around the stem. Remove the collar once the plant has several sets of leaves. You can also cut the bottom off of a paper cup and slide the open-bottom cup over the seedling to prevent cutworm damage.

2. Hornworms



What are they:

Tomato or tobacco hornworms can decimate mature tomato plants in one night. These crafty insects are large green worms about two to three inches long with tiny horns on their head and ridged bodies. Hornworms are perfectly camouflaged so they look exactly like a tomato stem or branch, making them difficult to spot. They emerge at night, eat all the leaves off the plant and move on to the next section or plant.

What to do about them:

Nature provides the best control for tomato hornworm in the form of a parasitic wasp that lays her eggs on the body of the hornworm. As the wasp’s larvae hatch, they eat into the living worm and eventually kill it. Natural methods to control tomato hornworms include planting marigolds around tomatoes. The strong marigold scent repels them naturally.

3. Colorado Potato Beetle



What are they:

Colorado potato beetles are native to the United States. They love plants in the nightshade family, especially potatoes. If they can’t find potatoes, however, they will gravitate towards tomatoes, eggplant and other nightshade family vegetables. The beetles are about the size of dimes, with yellow-and-black striped wings. The adults use their mouthparts to chew holes in the leaves of tomato plants. Females lay clusters of bright gold or yellow eggs underneath the leaves. When the larvae hatch, they spread out among the tomato leaves, easily eating their way through the entire plant. Larvae are red to dark pink with black spots and frequently hide under the leaves during the day.

What to do about them:

Use a pesticide with pyrethrins to spray on your tomato plants. This method works best in early spring before the larvae mature.

4. Stink Bugs



What are they:

The brown marmorated stink bug isn’t only an annoyance inside the home. These insects also use their needle-like mouthparts to suck the juice right out of your tomatoes. They can be spotted with the naked eye on your tomatoes, or you can see their damage in the yellow, uneven spots that appear on the ripening tomatoes. When you slice into a yellow-spotted tomato, white sections appear under the yellow spots, which distinguish stink bug damage from fungal or viral problems.

What to do about them:

Any brand of pesticides makes stink bug traps that harmlessly attract the insects to the trap and away from your tomatoes.

5. Spider Mites



What are they:

Spider mites are difficult to see because they’re so tiny, but you can clearly see the damage they leave behind. Mites scuttle along the stems and leaves, piercing the leaves to feed on the juices. Eventually, tomato leaves look stippled and bronzed, with damage to the plant’s leaf structure.

What to do about them:

The best method for treating spider mites on tomato plants is to use a neem oil spray. Another option is insecticidal soap, which also offers a treatment for spider mites.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Common Tomato Plant Problems - Powdery Mildew on Tomatoes

How to Fix It


What it looks like:





Powdery mildew is easy to find on tomato plants as it looks like someone brushed the leaves with a white powder. You might find white spots on tomato leaves or even the stem. If you let the fungi thrive it will turn your tomato leaves yellow and then brown.

What causes it:

Powdery mildew on tomatoes is more common in greenhouses than an outdoor garden because of the lack of air flow and high humidity.

What to do about it:

The best way to prevent powdery mildew on tomato plants is to use a preventative spray formulated with sulfur.

Common Tomato Plant Problems - Viral Diseases

How to Fix It


What it looks like:





Viral diseases mainly attack the tomatoes themselves. You might find black spots on tomatoes, or weird stripes on them. Don’t confuse signs of disease for just how some heirloom tomatoes look with natural stripes.

What causes it:

Many of these viruses spread when plants are stressed by heat, drought or poor soil.

What to do about it:

If you’ve read through all of these tomato problems and think your tomatoes may be suffering from a viral disease, spray your tomato plants with neem oil. Good soil management and using organic fertilizer for tomatoes also helps keep your plants healthy, which can help them naturally resist viruses better.

Common Tomato Plant Problems - Verticilium Wilt

How to Fix It


What it looks like:



Yellow blotches appear on the lower leaves. As the blotches spread, the veins in the leaves turn brown. After the leaves turn brown, they fall off. The disease progresses up the stem until the plant is stunted.

What causes it:

A fungus that lives in the soil, Verticilliurn albo-atrum, attacks the roots and travels up the xylem tubes with water. It then prevents the normal flow of water and nutrients to the leaves.

What to do about it:

Once plants are infected, there isn’t much you can do to treat Verticillium wilt. Rotate your crops, because the fungus can live for long periods in the soil and even live among weeds such as ragweed. Choosing wilt-resistant varieties to plant is the best way to prevent Verticillium wilt.

Common Tomato Plant Problems - Fusarium Wilt

How to Fix It


What it looks like:



Your tomato plants look fine, when suddenly, they start to wilt. At first, only one side may be affected, but then the whole plant is wilting. You water them, and the problem gets worse. Within a day or two, the plant is dead!

What causes it:

A nasty fungus called Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. lycopersici that attacks the vascular system of the plant, roughly equivalent to a human’s veins. The fungus destroys the xylem tubes, which transport water and nutrients up from the roots and into the leaves.

What to do about it:

In the case of fusarium wilt, the best defense is a good offense. Rotate your crops so tomatoes aren’t planted in the same section of the garden each year. Purchase wilt-resistant varieties if you’ve lost tomatoes to wilting diseases in the past, since the fungus can overwinter in garden and lawn soils.