This post may contain affiliate links.

Tomatoes are one of the easiest vegetable crops to grow, but unfortunately, there are also a whole host of pests waiting to feed on your tomato plants. From sap-sucking aphids to root-munching wireworms, these tiny creatures can quickly lay waste to your dreams of an abundant crop of delicious tomatoes.

Luckily, nature often has a way of controlling an outbreak of garden pests. By utilizing companion plants that deter pests and attract beneficial insects, we can keep tomato pests to a minimum. In some cases, it may also be necessary to take extra steps to eliminate these pests and save your crop, but it is vital to make sure you aren’t harming beneficial insects as well.

Let’s take a look at the most common tomato pests and how to control and prevent them.

1. Hornworms

Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Hornworms are large green caterpillars that feast on the foliage of tomato plants. They can be identified by the prominent ‘horn’ at the rear end of the body.

The best way to control a hornworm infestation is to pick them off the plant or spray them with insecticidal soap. To prevent hornworms, plant nectar-rich flowers like dill, fennel, and yarrow to attract beneficial insects that feed on hornworm eggs and larvae.

How to Get Rid of Tomato Hornworms in Your Garden

2. Cutworms

Close up of common cutworm on leaves.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Cutworms are small green-grey caterpillars that eat through the stems of young tomato plants. They only feed at night, so it can be difficult to spot until the damage has been done, by which time it may be too late to save your carefully nurtured tomato plants.

The best way to prevent cutworm damage is to place a small collar around the base of each plant, sinking it at least an inch into the ground. Plastic yogurt pots with the bottom removed are ideal for this purpose.

3. Spider Mites

Super macro photo closeup of group of Red Spider Mite infestation on vegetable. Insect concept.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Red spider mites feed on the sap of tomato plants, causing the leaves to become yellow and mottled. They thrive in hot, dry conditions and can reproduce quickly – once a spider mite infestation is spotted, it may be too late to save your plant.

Unfortunately, spider mites can be difficult to deter, so vigilance is essential to spot signs of these tiny insects as soon as they appear.

Sprinkling the soil with hot pepper flakes and garlic powder can help stop them from moving from plant to plant, and insecticidal soap is an effective treatment in the early stages of infestation. Badly damaged plants should be removed promptly and burned.

4. Aphids

Spring season, cherry tree, close-ups of insects aphid pests
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Aphids are small pear-shaped insects that can be yellow, pink, green, or black in color. They form colonies on the stems and leaves of tomato plants, sucking the sap and weakening the plant.

Tomato plants can generally recover from minor damage caused by aphids, and the best control method is to attract beneficial insects that feed on aphids.

Marigolds, sweet alyssum, sunflowers, and feverfew will draw in ladybugs, lacewings, and hoverflies, all of which help to keep aphid populations under control.

14 Herbs and Vegetables That Can Sabotage Your Tomato Garden

5. Colorado Potato Beetles

Colorado beetles and larvae
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Although it may be called a potato beetle, the Colorado beetle also eats tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Both adult Colorado potato beetles and their larvae feed on the leaves of tomato plants, weakening the plant and causing low yields.

Colorado potato beetles hide in plant debris on the soil surface, so regular tilling can help keep them under control. In the event of an infestation, adult beetles can be picked off by hand and regular application of Bacillus thuringiensis will reduce larvae numbers.

6. Flea Beetles

The garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) infested with Cabbage flea beetle (Phyllotreta cruciferae) or crucifer flea beetle.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Flea beetles are small, shiny beetles that can leap into the air like fleas. They feed on tender young leaves, creating holes and ragged edges that can weaken the plant.

Dusting the leaves of tomato plants with talcum powder can help to repel flea beetles. Row covers placed over young tomato plants will protect them from flea beetles while they become established.

7. Psyllids

Citrus psyliid adults at the backside of the citrus leaf plant. These psyllids responsible for spreading citrus greening disease which is one of the most destructive diseases of citrus worldwide.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Psyllids, also known as jumping plant lice, cause the leaves of tomato plants to turn yellow and curl. Adult psyllids can be hard to detect, but look out for the tiny yellow eggs they lay on the underside of leaves.

The best control method for psyllids is neem oil sprayed weekly onto the plant foliage. Planting nectar-rich flowers can attract natural predators that feed on psyllids, such as ladybugs, hoverflies, and lacewings.

8. Whiteflies

Groups of tiny trialeurodes vaporariorum of leaf.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Whiteflies are tiny flying insects that suck the sap from the leaves of tomatoes, weakening the plant and causing poor crop yields. They can also increase the risk of fungal infections such as powdery mildew.

The easiest way to get rid of whiteflies is to spray the underside of the leaves with an organic dish soap and water mix. Dragonflies, spiders, and parasitoid wasps all like to feed on whiteflies and will quickly get an infestation under control.

9. Stalk Borers

Vadnais Heights, Minnesota, John H. Allison Forest, Blue Flag Iris flower in the rain.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Stalk borers are small slender caterpillars that, as the name suggests, tunnel into the stems of tomato plants. Unfortunately, they are difficult to spot until it is too late and the plant is damaged beyond hope.

To deter stalk borers, keep the soil clear around your tomato plants and mow grassy areas regularly. Ladybugs and lacewings feed on the eggs and larvae of stalk borers, helping to keep numbers low and reduce the risk of damage.

10. Thrips

Remove BG




A closeup shot of a Thrips on a green leaf.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Thrips are very small winged insects that thrive in hot, dry conditions. They are often a problem in tomatoes grown in glasshouses and grow tunnels, causing distorted growth and blossom drop.

Blue sticky traps are effective at controlling thrip populations in enclosed spaces such as glasshouses. Predatory mites can also be purchased as a natural biological control of thrips.

11. Leaf Miners

Nightshade miner on a tomato leaf in a greenhouse. High quality photo.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

The larvae of leaf miners tunnel through the cells of tomato plant leaves, causing characteristic lines along the surface and underside. If extensive, the damage can affect photosynthesis action and reduce crop yields.

To control leaf miners, hang yellow sticky traps near tomato plants to trap the adult flies. Damaged leaves should be removed and destroyed before the larvae can pupate.

12. Wireworms

Wireworm against the background of the soil. Larva of the Click beetle. Agricultural pest. Selective focus.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Wireworms, the larvae of click beetles, dwell underground, where they attack the roots of tomato plants. Damaged plants will quickly wilt and die, often before you even realize the damage has been done.

Birds love to feed on wireworms, so attract them to your garden by providing nesting spots and food sources. To capture live wireworms in the soil, bury a cut potato for a couple of days – wireworms will burrow into the potato, which can then be removed and discarded.

13. Armyworms

Fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda on corn leaf. Corn leaves
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Armyworm caterpillars eat both the fruits and leaves of tomato plants. They mainly feed at night and can be identified by the yellow stripe down the side of the body. The eggs, laid on the underside of leaves, are covered in a white fluffy substance.

In the event of an armyworm infestation, handpicking at night is the fastest way to get them under control. Biodiversity in the vegetable plot will attract many predators that enjoy feeding on armyworms.

14. Tomato fruit worms

Green Noctua Caterpillar Eating a Green Tomato.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

The tomato fruit worm, or corn earworm, is a moth caterpillar that damages the flowers and fruits of tomato plants. It burrows inside tomatoes and causes the fruit to become deformed and inedible.

Damsel bugs, lacewings, and parasitoid wasps feed on this troublesome pest’s larvae, so plant different annual flowers to attract beneficial insects. Inspect plants regularly and remove and destroy leaves with eggs or newly hatched larvae.

15. Stink bugs

Brown Marmorated shield bug on tomato in the vegetable garden. Halyomorpha halys insect on damaged cultivation.
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Stink bugs are shield-shaped insects that damage both green and ripe tomatoes. They cause poor growth and fruit deformities and can also increase the risk of yeast infection in tomato crops.

Immature stink bugs gather under tomato leaves and can be picked off by hand. Insecticidal soap or neem spray kills stink bug nymphs, and several species of birds eat adult stink bugs.

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes

Grow Juicier, Tastier Tomatoes with These 15 Companion Plants

growing tomatoes
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Companion planting is an age-old gardening method that can help prevent common plant issues and boost crop yields. By using some of the best companion plants for tomatoes, your harvests will be better than ever. Here are the 15 best companion plants for your tomato garden.

Grow Juicier, Tastier Tomatoes with These 15 Companion Plants

How to Support Tomatoes: Tomato Stakes vs. Tomato Cages

supporting tomatoes with stakes or cages
Image Credit: Homestead How-To

Supporting garden tomatoes with tomato stakes or cages is necessary for all but a few varieties of tomatoes. Without some form of support, your tomato plant will sprawl out over the ground. Here, we’ll share some considerations to help you make a choice that will work for your garden.

How to Support Tomatoes: Tomato Stakes vs. Tomato Cages

How to Properly Prune Tomato Plants

tomato plants in garden
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

If you’re dealing with tomato plants that often get diseased, tend to droop, or look unhealthy, pruning should be on your gardening checklist. Here’s how you can properly prune your tomato plants.

How to Properly Prune Tomato Plant

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *