How to Get rid of Aphids on Tomatoes for Good

Aphids are common pests in vegetable gardens, more so on tomato plants. They are usually found in large colonies on new growth and on the undersides of leaves. Aphids feed by sucking sap from the plant and this may result in the deformation of leaves, buds, and flowers.

Feeding aphids also secrete honeydew, a sugary sticky fluid, which may attract ants in your garden or cause sooty mold to grow on your tomatoes. Many species of aphids transmit potyvirus which may cause stunted growth, mosaic patterns on the leaves, and distorted fruits.

Aphids colonies spread rapidly fast making it difficult to control. If you discover that you have aphids on your tomato plants, this guide explains how to get rid of them. But before that, it’s important to know what aphids look like and some of their symptoms compared to spider mites.

Aphids on tomatoes

What do aphids look like?

Aphids are small soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects about the size of a pinhead. They can be black, pink, pale yellow, or green. The best way to identify aphids is to check for two small projections at the end of their abdomen. Mature ones can be wingless or can have wings.

As opposed to other insects, aphids have unique females which reproduce without fertilization. Around late summer, both males and females are produced. Once they mature, they mate and produce eggs. In spring, the overwintered eggs hatch, all into females and the cycle continues.

Both young and mature aphids have needle-like mouth parts which they use to pierce and suck sap from the plants. In many cases, you won’t notice when aphids are feeding. But symptoms of severe infestations on tomatoes include curled leaves, yellow foliage, dead shoots, and poor growth. 

How to get rid of aphids on tomatoes

Several ways can be used to control aphids in gardens. They include the following:

High-pressure water sprays

Aphids are not generally not strong insects, a steady spray of water easily knocks them off plants. This is why you hardly notice them in high rainy season. Spraying the plants with a pressured garden hose also washes off any honeydew and mold covering your plants.

When using this approach, it’s important to be careful not to overwater your tomatoes. It’s another death trap for your plants. Overwatered tomato plants can suffer root rot due to poor oxygen supply in the soil. Waterlogged soils also attract fungi that causes root rot.

Natural predators

Several insects naturally prey on aphids, tomato hornworms, and other destructive bugs. Some of the beneficial insects to encourage in your garden include lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Aphids multiply very fast, so it may take some time for predatory insects to finish them.

The easiest way to attract beneficial insects in your garden is to grow flowering plants like Borage and Marigold. Pollinators will also get attracted and you’ll get high yields. To protect these insects, avoid using pesticides, if you need to then go for low-risk products.

Apply neem oil

Neem oil is a natural insecticide derived from the seeds of the neem tree. It contains compounds that disrupt the feeding, breeding, and growth of pest insects including aphids. Neem oil is safe for use on edible crops like tomatoes and won’t hurt beneficial insects.

To use neem oil, mix it with water according to the instructions on the product label. You may want to test it on a small area of the plant several days before a full application. Spray it onto the affected plants, ensuring thorough coverage of both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves.

Use soap spray

Soap sprays are effective in controlling aphids on tomatoes. The solution works by suffocating the pest insects alongside destroying their cell membranes. An insecticidal soap is generally not harmful to plants, animals, or humans. Simply use as directed on the product label.

You can also make your own insecticidal soap by mixing a small amount of mild liquid soap with water. Use around 1-2 teaspoons of soap per gallon of water. You may add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Mix well and then spray the solution onto the affected tomato plants.

It’s advisable to test the soap spray on a small area of the plant a few days before a full application to ensure it does not cause harm. If it does not show any adverse effects, apply thoroughly, ensuring the undersides of the leaves where aphids tend to congregate is covered.

Organic pesticides

If chemical control is necessary, choose organic pesticides labeled for use on edible crops. This should be the last resort after all other options. Follow the product label instructions carefully and observe any pre-harvest intervals to ensure food safety.

How to prevent aphids in your tomato garden

Preventing aphids in a garden involves using strategies that create unfavorable conditions for the pests. Here are some tips to help prevent aphid infestations in your tomato garden.

  • Avoid planting tomatoes in the same spot year after year. Rotate your crops to disrupt aphids’ life cycles and reduce their buildup in the garden.
  • Maintain healthy soil with good drainage and adequate organic matter. Healthy plants are better able to withstand aphid infestations.
  • Avoid overcrowding tomato plants. Provide adequate spacing between plants to promote good air circulation and reduce humidity levels.
  • Remove weeds from your garden as they act as potential sites for egg-laying and aphid attacks.
  • Inspect tomato plants regularly for signs of aphid infestations. Early detection allows for prompt intervention before aphid populations get out of control.
  • Remove and destroy heavily infested or damaged plant parts, such as leaves or stems with dense aphid colonies.
  • Plant aphid-repellent herbs and flowers, such as garlic, chives, and marigolds, near your tomato plants to help deter aphids.

Final thought

Getting rid of aphid on tomato plants can involve a combination of several methods including both natural and chemical solutions. However, it’s best to prevent than treat. Promote healthy plant growth, monitor your tomatoes regularly, and take action as soon as aphids are discovered in your garden. 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

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