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What Is Eating My Green Tomatoes? A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

Green tomatoes can be a target for various pests that enjoy feasting on them. Identifying the culprits and knowing how to manage these pests is essential for protecting your tomato plants. This guide will help you determine the common pests eating your green tomatoes and provide effective solutions to safeguard your garden.

Key Highlights

  • Common Pests: Identify the primary pests that feed on green tomatoes.
  • Signs of Infestation: Learn to recognize the signs of pest damage.
  • Control Methods: Discover effective ways to manage and prevent pest infestations.
  • Natural Remedies: Explore eco-friendly solutions for protecting your plants.

Last update on 2024-07-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Common Pests Eating Green Tomatoes

Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworms are large green caterpillars with a horn-like projection on their rear end. They can cause significant damage by eating both the leaves and fruits of tomato plants.

Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can be green, black, or gray. They feed on the sap of the plant, causing leaves to curl and yellow and fruits to become misshapen.

Cutworms

Cutworms are the larvae of certain moths. They are usually brown or gray and can chew through stems and fruit, causing the plant to collapse.

Slugs and Snails

Slugs and snails feed on tomato fruits, leaving large, irregular holes and silvery trails on the surface.

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs feed on tomato fruits by piercing the skin and sucking out the juices. This results in small, sunken spots and deformed fruit.

Birds

Birds can peck at tomatoes, causing damage to the fruit. They are often attracted to the ripening fruit but can also target green tomatoes.

Signs of Infestation

Chewed Leaves and Fruits

Look for irregular holes and ragged edges on the leaves and fruits. This type of damage is often caused by caterpillars and slugs.

Yellowing and Curling Leaves

If the leaves are yellowing, curling, or wilting, it might be due to aphid infestation. Aphids can also leave a sticky residue known as honeydew.

Large, Irregular Holes

Large, irregular holes on the fruit are often caused by slugs, snails, or hornworms.

Small, Sunken Spots

Small, sunken spots and deformed fruit can be a sign of stink bug damage.

Bird Peck Marks

Bird peck marks are usually small and irregular, often found on the sides or tops of the tomatoes.

Control Methods

Handpicking

For larger pests like tomato hornworms and cutworms, handpicking is an effective control method. Inspect your plants regularly and remove any pests you find.

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is effective against soft-bodied insects like aphids. Spray the soap directly on the affected areas, making sure to cover the undersides of the leaves.

Diatomaceous Earth

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants to deter crawling insects like cutworms and slugs. This natural powder dehydrates and kills insects on contact.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide that works against a wide range of pests, including aphids and stink bugs. Mix according to the instructions and spray on affected plants.

Bird Netting

Cover your tomato plants with bird netting to protect them from birds. This physical barrier prevents birds from accessing the fruit while allowing sunlight and water to pass through.

Natural Remedies

Companion Planting

Planting herbs and flowers like marigolds, basil, and nasturtiums can help repel pests. These plants can attract beneficial insects that prey on common tomato pests.

Beneficial Insects

Introducing beneficial insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps can help control pest populations. These insects feed on aphids, caterpillars, and other pests.

Homemade Sprays

  • Garlic Spray: Blend garlic cloves with water and a small amount of dish soap. Spray this mixture on your plants to repel pests.
  • Pepper Spray: Mix hot pepper flakes with water and a few drops of dish soap. Spray this solution on the leaves to deter pests.

Fascinating Facts About Tomatoes

FactDetails
OriginTomatoes originated in South America and were first domesticated in Mexico.
Nutritional ValueTomatoes are rich in vitamins C and K, potassium, and antioxidants like lycopene.
VarietiesThere are thousands of tomato varieties, including heirloom, cherry, and beefsteak.
FamilyTomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family, which also includes eggplants, peppers, and potatoes.
Culinary UsesTomatoes are versatile in the kitchen and can be used fresh in salads, cooked in sauces, or preserved as paste.

Top-Selling Tomato Pest Control Products

BioAdvanced Organics Brand Tomato, Vegetable & Fruit For Insects, Ready-to-Use, 24 oz
  • KILLS LISTED INSECTS FAST: Kills on contact to protect your edibles against Aphids, Caterpillars, Mealybugs, Spider Mites and other listed pests
  • CURATIVE CONTROL: Cures powdery mildew
  • USE ON: Use to protect edibles such as vegetables, fruit and nut trees, citrus, berries, herbs and outdoor container-grown plants
  • OMRI-LISTED: Formula may be used for organic gardening
BioAdvanced Tomato & Vegetable Insect Killer, 32-Ounce, Ready-to-Spray
  • INSECT KILLER: Kills listed pests, such as aphids, adult Japanese beetles, cutworms
  • FAST ACTING: Kills listed insects by contact
  • USE ON: Leafy, fruiting and root vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, carrots, as well as on cucurbits
  • EASY APPLICATION: Ready-to-Spray bottle is easy to use and will not harm your lawn
Bonide Captain Jack's Tomato & Vegetable Spray, 32 oz Ready-to-Use Spray, Insect & Disease...
  • PEST DEFENSE - This product is designed to kill species of aphid, spider mite, ant, cricket, weevil, caterpillar, fly, thrip, silverfish & more.
  • CONTROLS FUNGAL DISEASES - Tomato & Vegetable spray controls blackspot, powdery mildew, rust, scab, blight, brown rot, & leaf spot. For best control apply as a spray early in the season before the diseases are noticed.
  • INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE - Our insect killer is perfect for use on listed fruits, vegetables, & ornamentals. This includes beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kale, onions, tomatoes, roses, houseplants, shrubs, almonds, apples, pears, & more.
  • CONTACT SPRAY - Pests need to be contacted by the spray to be controlled. We recommend you thoroughly spray all areas of the plant, especially new shoots & the underside of leaves.
Natria Tomato, Vegetable & Fruit Insect Control, Ready-to-Use, 24 oz
  • KILLS LISTED INSECTS FAST: Kills on contact to protect your edibles against Aphids, Caterpillars, Mealybugs, Spider Mites and other listed pests
  • CURATIVE CONTROL: Cures powdery mildew
  • USE ON: Use to protect edibles such as vegetables, fruit and nut trees, citrus, berries, herbs and outdoor container-grown plants
  • OMRI-LISTED: Formula may be used for organic gardening
BioAdvanced 708480A Insect Killer, Vegetable Garden Insecticide, 32 Ounce, Ready-to-Spray
1,461 Reviews
BioAdvanced 708480A Insect Killer, Vegetable Garden Insecticide, 32 Ounce, Ready-to-Spray
  • INSECT KILLER: Kills over 70 more listed insects including Aphids, Caterpillars, Thrips, Tomato Hornworm, and Whiteflies
  • PROTECT FRUIT & VEGETABLES: Protect fruits and vegetables from insect damage, for outdoor use
  • EASY APPLICATION: Ready-to-Spray bottle easily connects to the hose for easy application
  • RAINPROOF PROTECTION: Rainproof in just 1 hour

Last update on 2024-07-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent pests from attacking my tomato plants?

Preventing pests involves regular inspection, proper plant spacing, and maintaining healthy soil. Using bird netting, companion planting, and introducing beneficial insects are also effective preventive measures.

What are the signs of a healthy tomato plant?

A healthy tomato plant has firm, dark green leaves with no signs of yellowing or wilting. The stem should be strong and upright, and there should be no visible holes or pest damage on the leaves or fruit.

Can I use chemical pesticides on my tomato plants?

While chemical pesticides can be effective, they may also harm beneficial insects and affect the overall health of your garden. Consider using organic and natural methods first before resorting to chemical treatments.

How often should I inspect my tomato plants for pests?

Inspect your tomato plants at least once a week, paying close attention to the undersides of the leaves and the fruits. Regular inspections help catch pest problems early before they become severe.

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