How to Identify Tomato Pests and Control Them
Left unchecked, tomato pests can inflict lots of damage to your tomato plants and even destroy them.
But there’s good news. If you keep a close watch, you can identify pests as soon as they begin their dirty work and treat them before things get out of hand.
Common tomato pest symptoms
Monitor tomato plants daily. Check leaves, stems and fruit for these symptoms that come from nasty critters on the prowl. Find out more about each pest and how to control it when you click on its link.
(Scroll down to the bottom of the page to ask a specific question about pests on your tomato plants.)
On leaves and stems
||tomato cutworm (early in the season)
||tomato hornworm, tobacco hornworm
|holes in leaves
|yellowing, curled leaves
|purpling veins in leaves
|tunnels or zigzag patterns in leaves
|hole in stem
|honeydew (white, sticky residue)
|webbing on leaf undersides
How to treat pests on tomatoes
Here’s an overview of the most common treatment methods for tomato pests. Choose the best treatment prescribed for each one. Get more information when you click on links above for specific pests.
More on tomato pests
Tomato hornworm: how to identify and control it ...
- Spray with water. Use a hose to spray plants with a strong jet water stream. This causes insects (especially smaller varieties) to dislodge and move on. Spray plants several days in a row to eradicate as many generations of fast-multiplying insects as possible.
- Handpick insects. Remove insects by hand. Use gloves. Destroy pests after removal by drowning them in a bucket of soapy water or crushing them with your foot. While handpicking is not practical for very small pests, it works well with larger ones like the tomato hornworm and the tobacco hornworm.
. Potassium salts in insecticidal soap’s fatty acids remove an insect’s protective waxes and cause disruption of insect cell membranes. They are effective when applied directly to the insect on the plant. Mix with water to produce a 2-3% dilution. One advantage of using
is less residual effects on other organisms. Moreover, insecticidal soaps are organic. One disadvantage is that certain plants may be sensitive to soaps, causing leaf burn.
are particularly effective on smaller pests such as aphids, pysillids, and spider mites.
- Apply horticultural oils. Plant- or petroleum-based oils are combined with water to produce horticultural sprays. Neem oil, for instance, is derived from seed extracts of the neem plant. Oil-based sprays block an insect’s air holes, interfere with an insect’s metabolism, disrupt feeding, or inhibit insect growth. Like insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils can cause plant injury if not properly diluted.
- Apply insecticides. If pests continue to attack plants after you’ve tried other treatment methods, you may need to resort to insecticides like
(available in granules , concentrate , or ready to use ) or
Eight(Permethrin) - available in dust , concentrate , and ready to spray . But keep in mind that by doing so, you may kill helpful insects. Follow product instructions. Treat for 2-4 weeks with a garden sprayer.
Tomato fruitworms: how to identify and control them ...
Tomato worms-cutworms: keep them away with stem collars ...
Stink bugs: how to identify and control them on tomato plants...
Pests that attack tomatoes in containers ...
How to identify and control indoor tomato pests ...
Other tomato problems
How to identify and control problems on tomato leaves ...
Problems on tomato stems ...
Problems on tomato fruit ...
Do You Have a Problem From Tomato Pests?
Do you have a problem with your tomatoes from a tomato pest? Describe your plant (if possible the variety, the soil, the weather) and the its symptoms. If you've seen the pest, describe it as best you can.
What Other Visitors Have Said
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
What pests are eating my cherry tomatoes? Not rated yet
Q. I have some pests eating my cherry tomatoes. They completely consume orange and red cherries, and chew a little out of green ones. I think it might …
Tomato stems are torn or shredded Not rated yet
Q. Tomato plants in my raised bed are ruined by something that tears the stems. Tomatoes never get to mature and usually the plant dies from the damage. …
Small white worms inside tomatoes Not rated yet
Q. Last year we had small white fattish worms inside our tomatoes. The year before, it happened to the eggplants. The fruit looks perfect, except for one …
Huge holes in my tomatoes Not rated yet
Q. I found such huge holes in my tomatoes. I thought birds were eating them, but the next day I found many small, red beetles eating the tomatoes, not …
I need a good vole deterrent! Not rated yet
Q. Have you got any suggestions for managing voles?
I've lost two old heirloom tomatoes to voles. I've never had any problems with them eating my tomatoes …
Spider Mites Not rated yet
Q. Year after year I struggle with with these pests. Would it help to pre-treat tomato plants with a fish oil, sesame oil, and castor oil mix work?
Tomatoes damaged by whitefly Not rated yet
Q. Can you help me identify and know how to treat whitefly pests on tomatoes?
A. Whiteflies suck juices from leaves, causing wilting, leaf damage, …
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