When we grow tomatoes in our garden we have to take into account that it can suffer from some type of pest, disease or be attacked by a virus. Normally these pests and diseases take over crops when mid-spring passes and temperatures begin to rise.
There are numerous pests that affect tomatoes, that is why I will explain them in depth and give solutions to combat them.
- 1 The plague of the aphid
- 2 Control and prevention of aphids
- 3 How to recognize aphids?
- 4 What damage do aphids cause?
- 5 How do we combat aphids?
The plague of the aphid
This pest must be controlled as soon as possible since it is a pest that spreads rapidly throughout the plant and consumes its sap. We can find these aphids on the underside 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 as it measures 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 the high temperatures make them feel comfortable 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 tomato is quite serious, being able to literally destroy our entire plantation and they also act as propagators of viral diseases. The most common species of aphids that attack tomato are Myzus persicae and Aphis gossypii. These aphids act by distributing themselves by foci throughout the entire 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 meshes on the greenhouse bands.
- Remove weeds inside and outside the greenhouse.
- Use yellow sticky traps.
With these techniques we can prevent the appearance of aphids in an ecological way.
How to recognize aphids?
These insects have a rounded appearance and a soft body. It measures about 3 mm and there are many colors: yellow, green, black, gray, etc. There are aphids that only feed on a particular plant, such as the cabbage aphid, and there are others, such as the green aphid, that feed on several.
The life cycle of aphids is quite complex since each species can reproduce in a different way and in a different number. They normally reproduce sexually when winter is about to arrive. They lay eggs and hibernate until the next spring (this is why crops are not affected in winter). Here comes why aphids are able to reproduce so quickly. Once spring arrives, females hatch from the eggs and are capable of reproducing without having 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 founding females, as they are the ones that migrate to colonize other plants and once there give birth to clones of new wingless female aphids. Finally in autumn these wingless females give birth to winged females and males that mate and lay eggs for the next spring.
What damage do aphids cause?
Among the damage caused by aphids in tomato, 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 to be unable to carry out photosynthesis.
- The aphids excrete a sweet liquid that they use as currency to pay the ants and for them to defend it from predators.
How do we combat aphids?
There are numerous predators of aphids that will kill them without damaging the tomato, such as ladybugs, parasitoid wasps, hoverflies, spiders, bugs, etc. However, fighting aphid pests in an ecological and sustainable way is much better to prevent. As I mentioned before, many aphids live in weeds and from there they go to the crops. If we remove the weeds, we can avoid the appearance of aphids.
Aphids can also be caught with traps relatively easily, spray 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 tobacco from macerated butts and pulverize. We can also macerate fresh nettles, let stand 24 hours and apply to affected plants.
With all this, we now know how to identify and kill aphids on our tomatoes and they will not be a problem.