Caterpillar and spider mite pests in tomato cultivation

caterpillar on tomato

Continuing with the pests and diseases that attack our tomato crops, today we come with the pests of butterfly caterpillars and spider mites.

Caterpillars are the main and most important pest of our cropsnot only tomatoes, since they are polyphagous and feed on many of our crops. Do you want to know how to recognize and combat them?

The plague of caterpillars

caterpillar eggs in tomato silver

caterpillar eggs in tomato plant

The caterpillars attack crops such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach, parsley, good grass, corn, peppers, tomatoes, etc. Some of these caterpillars are capable of feeding on the entire family of plants to which they belong and even on the most poisonous ones such as tobacco.

These caterpillars come from both nocturnal moths and daytime butterflies. The appearance they take can be very different between them, although there are always exceptions. The life cycle of these caterpillars is quite simple. The moth or butterfly is responsible for laying the eggs on the plant that feeds. In a few days the caterpillars emerge and begin to feed almost non-stop until they reach an adequate size to enter the chrysalis state. Typically, depending on the species, this can take a week or two, and even take a month for the largest ones, which will emerge like a butterfly.

Symptoms and treatment of caterpillar infestation

caterpillars on tomato crops

caterpillars on tomato crops

In order to recognize the symptoms and know that we have a caterpillar infestation attacking our tomato crop, we have to observe the leaves of the plant. If we see small holes in the leaves, we may have a caterpillar infestation. These are usually hidden under the leaves and stems.

To start caterpillar treatment we have to employ the Bacillus. The disadvantage of this is that when applying the treatment, it does not affect the eggs, so we will have to repeat the process for several days, until all the eggs are hatched.

We can also use natural predators that feed on caterpillars. There are quite a few and among them we have:

  • Parasitoid wasps: They are placed on the outside of the caterpillars and lay their eggs inside. The caterpillar will be eaten inside.
  • Predatory wasps: They capture the caterpillars and take them to their nests.
  • Beetles: There are many that feed on caterpillars and hunt them with their powerful jaws.
  • Frogs and Toads: It is always convenient to create a space with water to attract them.
  • Birds: There are many insectivorous birds that come to the garden to capture them. Some are the Hornero, washerwoman, mosquito net.

Red spider plague

spider mite infestation

red spider mite infestation

Another pest that can attack our tomato crop is the red spider. It is a mite that feeds on the sap of plants. It measures only half a millimeter and is barely visible to the human eye when we see large amounts of them. Although they are called red spiders, they are capable of changing color. In winter it has a greener tone and in summer more red.

The easiest way to know if we have this pest is that they live in groups, building a kind of fabric on the underside of the leaves of the plants that allows them to hide from predators and also helps them to move easily throughout the plant. Apart from the tomato, It also affects crops such as aubergine, zucchini, beans, potatoes, melon, cucumber, pepper, watermelon, tomato, marijuana, citrus fruits, strawberries, corn and also ornamental plants.

Symptoms and treatment of spider mites

spider mite damage to tomatoes

Red spider mite damage to tomatoes

To recognize that the spider mite is attacking our tomato crops, we can see with the naked eye by observing on the leaves a series of yellow dots that are in the bundle. When the concentration of spiders is very large, it gets to dry and everything. Most of them are usually present in times from spring to autumn, when temperatures are higher. Another way to recognize them is by the fabric they leave between the leaves when moving.

To combat these spiders we have to remove the weeds, since they are a good reservoir for these insects. We can also go to a store and buy other mites that prey on them, such as Phytoseiulus persimilis and Amblyseius sp. Plants that are affected must be removed to prevent spreadavoid excess nitrogen fertilizers, sprinkle sulfur, keep the humidity of the high leaves, since they prefer drier environments or rotate the crops.

Caterpillar and spider mite pests in tomato cultivation

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