Everything wants to eat your tomatoes! If you aren’t careful, you’ll find that a whole host of common garden pests will descend upon your hard work and gobble it up before you have a chance to harvest.
Cutworms, flea beetles, grasshoppers, spider mites, and root weevils – the list is long!
There are three, though, that you need to guard against most carefully – aphids, stink bugs, and tomato fruit worms.
There is no shortage of chemical solutions to deal with these pests, but you’re growing an organic food garden, right? So how do we deal with these destructive creepy crawlers?
Three Common Tomato Pests
These tiny green or black insects can either be winged or wingless and like to hang out in clusters on the bottom side of tomato leaves or tomato stems.
They suck moisture and nutrients out of your tomatoes, causing curled and yellowed leaves and stunted plants.
True to their name, stink bugs let off a very foul odor if threatened or squashed.
Both nymphs and adults damage your tomatoes by sucking their sap and attacking the fruit. Young and adult stink bugs look the same with an easily recognized shield-shaped body.
Adults can be black, brown or green, and either with or without markings. Youths are basically just smaller versions of adult stink bugs. When they attack your tomatoes, your plants are weakened and young fruit may form improperly as a result. Yellow-white spots beneath the skin of ripened fruit are a common sign of stink bug damage to your crops.
Tomato Fruit Worms
Also known as the corn earworm, these pink, green or brown insects with light striping can grow to nearly 2 inches long.
They are actually moth larvae that bore into tomato fruit to feed. Moths lay their eggs close to tomato stems with green fruit, and approximately a week later, you will have a tomato fruit worm problem.
Organic Garden Pest Control Solutions
Once you see any of these common and frustrating tomato pests on your plants, you’ll want to take immediate action. For starters, spray the affected areas with a strong stream of water to dislodge these critters. If you spray several days consecutively, you can eliminate multiple generations of these quickly multiplying pests.
Once you’ve done that, you’ll also want to employ any of the following organic pest control methods:
Throw on a pair of gardening gloves and fill a large can with warm, soapy water. Then simply pluck the little “darlings” off your plants and drop them into the can.
Keep the areas around your plants free from weeds and other garden debris as this eliminates a favorite habitat and hiding place for many garden pests.
Organic insecticidal soap
Mix with water to create a 2 to 3% solution and apply directly to common tomato pests for best results.
This organic, plant-based oil is very effective against aphids, stink bugs and tomato fruit worms. You can find it in many garden centers or order it online. Apply according to package directions for best results.
Introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings (all available for order online) to your garden and let them do what they do best.
You can’t make the garden pests disappear entirely. They’re inevitable for not only tomato gardeners but anyone who tries to grow food. But we can take some steps to prevent them from eating up our entire harvest!0