Protecting Your Tomatoes

garden tomatoes

One of the most common, home-grown vegetables is the tomato. This delicious vegetable goes well with dozens of meals or even by itself, and it is a great addition to any home garden.  As summer is rapidly approaching, we thought it would be an ideal time to educate and remind our readers of some of the pests that often plague tomato plants this time of year.  Nothing is more frustrating than putting in all of that work to grow plump, juicy tomatoes, only for them to be ruined by tiny insects.  Check out these five culprits and be sure to keep your eyes open for them this season.

  1. Aphids: These tomato pests are tiny insects that can only be seen on close inspection.  They typically target the leaves of your plant and are most often found on the underside of leaves. Aphids come in a range of different colors and can multiply from a few harmless bugs to a plant infestation very quickly, which can result in serious damage to your tomato plant.
  2. Stink bugs: This insect is a more significant problem in the warmer regions of the country.  They are significantly larger than aphids, with an average size of about ½ inch. Stink bugs have a greenish brown color and their exterior shell resembles a shield. Similar to aphids, they prey on the leaves of tomato plants, feeding off the inner juices of the leaf.
  3. Flea beetles: This pest gets its name from its unique flea-like ability to jump great distances. Flea beetles are another very tiny pest that prefers to prey on tomato plants in their early growth stage.  Again, it is the leaves of the plant that are targeted as the flea beetles chew small holes through the leaves, which can cause enough damage to prohibit further growth.
  4. Hornworms: There are two types of hornworms, the tomato and the tobacco hornworm. However, both can cause major damage to tomato plants. These pests are the larval stages of various moths.  Hornworms are known to attack all different parts of a tomato plant; leaves, stem and fruit, which makes them a serious problem in your garden.
  5. Tomato Fruitworm: These pests are another larval stage of a species of moth. They prefer to spend their early stages of the life cycle feeding on the inside of tomatoes.  This is an especially tricky problem because if you haven’t noticed eggs on the plant earlier in the year, the fruitworm will be left inside your tomato to do its damage, unnoticed until it is too late.

These are only a few of the dozens of pests that will attempt to feed off of your tomato plants. The key is careful monitoring and proper maintenance to avoid damage.  There are many at-home remedies to deter and manage these insects, but lawn care companies can offer you garden solutions for these invaders as well.