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Aphids on Tomato Plants: Identification, Control, Prevention

Aphids on Tomato Plants: Identification, Control, Prevention

Aphids are undoubtedly, the most widespread tomato pests. These tiny sap-sucking insects can be hard to spot and often go unnoticed, especially green Aphids, which can camouflage themselves on the foliage and remain inconspicuous in clear sight. 

Encountering Aphids feeding on your tomato plants is not a rare occurrence, and you should not be worried because there are plenty of ways you can deal with Aphid infestation on Tomatoes and keep them away for good.

Keep a watchful eye over Tomatoes and observe the foliage frequently. Aphids can be identified by their pear-shaped soft bodies and are found under leaves. Kill them with a soap solution spray or with the help of bugs. Prevent Aphid infestation by strategic plant positioning and Neem oil spray. 

 

Identification of aphids on tomato plants

Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects usually found on the underside of leaves and feeding on new, soft growth. They can be green, pink, purple, gray, or black in color. When squished, the bodies usually release a similarly colored pigment. Aphids are usually found in colonies producing honeydew.

The first step in solving every problem is diagnosing it first. To diagnose an Aphid infestation on your tomatoes, you need to confirm the presence of these pests. 

There’s a range of ways you could confirm Aphid infestation. Still, first, you must know the importance of a timely diagnosis rather than spotting the Aphids when it’s too late. 

Yellow spots on tomato leaves, curled or deformed new foliage are some of the first symptoms of Aphid attack. If ignored, your tomatoes will experience premature leaf drop, and in turn, a drastic reduction in fruit yield. 

But this is not only because Aphids suck the sap out of your tomato plants. This is only the direct effect of Aphid infestation. The indirect effects, in fact, are more dangerous.

The sticky substance secreted by Aphids as they feed on the sap is called honeydew. It sticks and encourages the growth of black spots on Tomato leaves.

The black spots result from a fungal disease called Sooty Mold and can engulf the whole leaf, blocking all light and making the leaf die. 

Moreover, Aphids are perfect vectors for viruses and can infect your Tomato plants with a range of viral infections, which will make the plants permanently ill. 

Aphids may infect your Tomatoes with tobacco etch virus, cucumber mosaic virus, alfalfa mosaic virus, and many other viruses that will not only result in stunted or deformed growth but also abnormal and inedible fruit. 

To avoid all these results of a severe Aphid infestation, you must catch and control an Aphid infestation early on. Observe your Tomato patch closely, specifically the underside of leaves, new growth, and blooming flowers.

Aphid colonies are most often found feeding on the sap on new, soft growth. Young Aphids will have broad, pear-shaped bodies. 

Green Aphids, when squished, release a green liquid. Late in the season, Aphids also grow wings and become more elongated. 

If you have confirmed Aphid presence on your Tomato plants, start Aphid control ASAP!

 

Control of aphids on tomato plants

Aphid removal by hand or a strong water spray comes first. Knock the Aphids you can see into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. For clinical treatment, spray the Tomatoes with dish soap water or a Neem Oil solution. This spray will reach into smaller areas where your hands or water can’t reach.

As soon as an Aphid infestation on your Tomatoes is confirmed, spare no time and get a bucket with some soap water. The bucket doesn’t need to be full or even half, just enough to drown the pests. 

Wear garden gloves and start knocking the Aphids off the stem and shake them off of smaller stems. Make sure the Aphids are falling directly into the bucket.

You can alternatively use a garden hose at high pressure and a fine spray setting to wash the Aphids off the Tomatoes. This will enable you to reach inaccessible spots too.

Know that even if some Aphids fall to the ground, they will not be able to recover. But make sure none fall on other plants as they can immediately start feeding off any other plant. 

Manual removal will get the majority of Aphids off of your Tomatoes and put an end to the loss of precious plant sap. But the job is not nearly done. 

It’s time to prepare a spray to soak your Tomatoes in so any and all Aphids are killed and ensure that they stay away from the plants. 

To prepare a Neem oil spray, add a tablespoon of Neem oil to every two cups of water. Neem oil will not mix very well in the water. You might need to add a minute amount of emulsifying agents such as mild detergent.  

You can also prepare a soapy solution spray with pure liquid Castile soap. Mix one tablespoon of the pure liquid soap in every quart of water, mix it well, and it’s ready to spray. 

Another interesting spray formula is to use Tomato leaves to kill Aphids feeding on Tomato plants. This might seem quite surprising, but in fact, this works. 

Aphids actually feed on the plant sap by puncturing the plant cells at the microscopic level. Tomato leaves actually contain a combination of alkaloids that can kill Aphids. 

All you need is two cups of Tomato leaves, cut them into smaller pieces, and soak them in water for a day. Strain the Tomato leaf water and add it to the spray can. Add two more cups of water to the can. 

Shake well and start spraying. Regardless of the spray you choose to kill Aphids, you can soak the foliage well in the spray each time. 

Spray in the early morning or in the evenings for best results. Initially, you can spray your Tomato plants thrice a week to eliminate all Aphids. 

You can continue tomato leaf, or Neem oil spray every two weeks as a preventative measure against future Aphid attacks.  

 

Prevention of an aphid attack on tomato plants

Aphid attack prevention is key to good Tomato yield. Prevent future attacks by spraying Neem oil repellant every few weeks. Use the help of beneficial bugs to keep Aphid populations in check. Planting Aphid-repellant plants near and Aphid-attracting plants away from Tomato patch will protect them. 

Neem oil is an excellent organic repellant to use against Aphids and keep them away from your Tomato plants. You can spray the Neem Oil solution every two or three weeks to keep Aphids well away.

Yellow sticky boards are another popular choice Tomato growers use to keep them safe from Aphids and other pests. 

The sticky boards attract Aphids before they land on Tomatoes and trap them. But be careful while placing these boards. 

Yellow sticky boards are highly reflective and can scorch Tomato leaves if placed too near the Tomato plants. 

But you don’t always have to intervene. If you have natural Aphid controllers in your garden, you might never have to worry about an Aphid infestation. 

For instance, if your garden has a healthy number of Ladybugs or Green Lacewings insects, you might never have to worry about a pest infestation. 

Strategic plant positioning is by far the most innovative, effective, and conclusive solution to Aphid attack prevention. 

The first part is to plant Aphid repellant plants near your Tomato patch. Strongly scented herbs like Garlic, Onions, Chive, Oregano, Sage, and Basil have strong repelling scents and will deter Aphids in their vicinity. 

These species make excellent companion plants for Tomatoes, and you can use double cropping to get more out of your garden.  

In the same way, you can place plants that attract beneficial bugs to your garden near your Tomatoes. Asters, Marigolds, Arugula, Wisteria, and similar species will attract more Aphid predators close to your Tomatoes. 

Strategic plantation also involves planting some species of far away from your Tomato patch to keep them safe from an Aphid attack. 

Species such as Nasturtium, Cosmos, Zinnias and Mustard are Aphid favorites. Planting such species as sacrificial plants in the far end of your garden will make sure Aphids feed on them rather than attacking your Tomatoes.  

Moreover, the use of sacrificial plants for protecting Tomatoes from Aphids will also make it easier to get rid of all the Aphids. 

All these pests will be concentrated in one place and spraying the sacrificial plant with Aphid control spray will effectively kill all of them and rid your garden of these pests fully. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Aphids on Tomato Plants

 

Will spraying Tomatoes to get rid of Aphids also control other pests?

If you use a dish soap, or Neem oil spray to treat an Aphid infestation, the spray will also act to kill and deter most other common Tomato pests. 

 

How do I release beneficial bugs in my Tomato plants?

The best time to release beneficial bugs such as Ladybugs is during the dark hours. Releasing the insects during the day will result in most of them flying away. Before releasing mist the bugs and the tomato plants with fine water spray.