When we grow tomatoes in our garden we have to take into account that it can suffer some type of plague, disease or be attacked by a virus. Normally these pests and diseases take over crops when the middle of spring passes and temperatures begin to rise.
There are numerous pests that affect tomato, That is why I will explain them in depth and provide solutions to combat them.
The aphid plague
This pest must be controlled as soon as possible and since it is a pest that it spreads rapidly throughout the plant and consumes its sap. We can find these aphids in the lower part of the leaves, on the stems and on the youngest shoots.
This is one of the most common pests that attack tomatoes and the insect can be seen with the naked eye since it measures more or less about 3 mm. We can see that they leave sequels in the tomato when we observe the rolled and sticky leaves and especially in the most tender shoots. The time of year when aphids attack the most is late spring and summer which is when high temperatures make them pleasant and able to reproduce and act well. They also require relatively low humidity and when we fertilize our tomatoes we help them to spread and spread more and more.
The damage caused by aphids in tomatoes is quite serious, they can literally destroy our entire plantation and also act as spreaders of viral diseases. The most common aphid species that attack tomato are the Myzus persicae y Aphis gossypii. These aphids act by distributing themselves in foci throughout the greenhouse or orchard where we are cultivating. The viruses they transmit are CMV and PVY.
Control and prevention of aphids
In order to avoid the appearance of these aphids in our crops, there are various control and prevention methods that will help us.
- Place mesh on the greenhouse bands.
- Eliminate weeds inside and outside the greenhouse.
- Use yellow gummed traps.
With these techniques we can ecologically prevent the appearance of aphids.
How to recognize aphids?
These insects have a rounded, soft-bodied appearance. It measures about 3 mm and there are many colors: yellow, green, black, gray, etc. There are aphids that only feed on one particular plant, such as the cabbage aphid, and there are others such as the green aphid that feeds on several.
The life cycle of aphids is quite complex since each species can reproduce differently and in different numbers. They normally reproduce sexually when winter is about to come. They lay their eggs and hibernate until next spring (this is why crops are not affected in winter). Here comes why aphids are able to reproduce so fast. Once spring arrives, females hatch from the eggs that are capable of reproducing without the need to mate. That is, they reproduce by giving birth to clones of adults.
Now, if the plant dies or the conditions are no longer favorable, the aphids that are going to become adults do so, but in a winged way. They are known as founder females, since they are the ones that migrate to colonize other plants and once there they give birth to clones of new female aphids without wings. Finally in fall these wingless females give birth to winged males and females who mate and lay their eggs next spring.
What damage do aphids cause?
Among the damages that aphids cause in tomatoes, we have the following:
- They suck the sap from plants
- They produce a fungus on the leaves where they feed. This fungus causes the plant cannot photosynthesize.
- The aphids excrete a sweet liquid that they use as currency to pay the ants and that they defend them from predators.
How do we fight aphids?
There are numerous aphid predators that will kill them without damaging the tomato, such as ladybugs, parasitoid wasps, sirphids, spiders, bed bugs, etc. Nevertheless, Fighting aphid pests in an ecological and sustainable way is much better to prevent. As I have mentioned before, many aphids live in weeds and from there they go to the crops. If we remove the weeds, we can prevent the appearance of aphids.
You can also catch aphids with traps with relative ease, spray with soapy water on the underside of the leaves, take a liter of water, 2 tablespoons of neutral soap and 2 tablespoons of 90 ° alcohol. Add macerated butt tobacco and pulverize. We can also marinate fresh nettles, let it rest for 24 hours and apply to the affected plants.
With all this, we already know how to identify and kill aphids on our tomatoes and they will not be a problem.