Let’s look at the most common bugs that like to eat your precious tomatoes, and what you can do to keep them under control.
This pest is hands down the worst enemy of my tomatoes. Monitor for adult fruit flies, sting holes in ripening tomatoes, tiny white maggots in the fruit, as well as dropping and rotting tomatoes. It is important to keep the garden floor clean from fallen fruit, and to destroy all infested fruit in plastic bags in the bin. Richgro Naturally Based Fruit Fly Spray controls and repels fruit fly. Spray plants thoroughly, particularly the fruit. Because it is formulated using naturally based ingredients, it is safe for use up to one day before harvest.
Aphids love mild, humid weather, and tender young plants. In a healthy garden aphids will be controlled by beneficial insects, but they take a while to build up numbers. I usually wipe aphids off with my fingers. You can also knock them from your tomato plants with a jet of water from the hose – take care to avoid breakage. For larger infestations we recommend Richgro Beat-A-Bug. Spray your tomato plants, covering all surfaces and re-apply when necessary (roughly between two and three weeks). Your tomatoes will be ready for picking in 24 hours.
These caterpillars are tough-skinned, brown, reddish, or green, with irregular dark stripes on their back. Budworms bore holes into your tomatoes. These pests are hard to kill, and it is important to tackle an infestation early, as smaller caterpillars are easier to kill and have not yet eaten their way through your entire crop. Monitor for small white visible eggs on the plants, which are a sign of a pending attack. Pick off the caterpillars, and spray your tomato plants thoroughly with Beat-A-Bug, including the underside of leaves.
Cutworms are several species of caterpillars that live in the soil during the day and attack your tomato plants at night. They damage the stem at the base causing the plant to collapse, so seedlings are most vulnerable. Prevent cutworm attacks by protecting young plants with cloches, or plant tubes or yoghurt containers with their bottoms cut off. As cutworms are active at night, evening sprays of Beat-A-Bug are most effective.
These eat the foliage of your tomato plants, but also attack young flowers and fruit. They are easily recognisable by their green colour and their distinctive looping movement. Control with Beat-A-Bug.
Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops in the home vegetable garden, for a reason: nothing compares to the taste of home-grown. Armed with this information you will surely have a bountiful harvest.
Birgit Daller is a horticulturist and garden designer, and the owner and creative head of Art of Green Landscapes & Design.