Tomatoes are a robust crop that not only makes for an attractive plant but provides a tasty controversy.
However, whether you’re in the fruit (berry) or vegetable camp, one thing everyone can agree on is that tomato plants tend to attract infestations.
While not as deadly as tomato worms, Aphids can be a frustrating problem that needs addressing quickly.
Related: How To Get Rid Of Tomato Hornworms?
Here’s what you need to know to spot and eliminate an aphid infestation on your tomato plants.
How Do You Get Rid Of Aphids On Tomatoes
Tomato plants can withstand a lot of abuse from Aphids, so it’s easy to take them less seriously.
The real threat to watch out for is the risk of aphids spreading to your other plants or of stunting your tomato’s development.
Aphids that Like Tomatoes
There are thousands of aphid species out there, but only a few prefer tomato plants.
The two most common are the potato aphid, which can be pink to light green or mottled, and the green peach aphid (green to pale yellow).
As their names suggest, potatoes aren’t the only target for these species, but they are a preferred plant.
Other aphid species may also infest a tomato plant when nearby plants have become heavily infested, or they’re chased off of a prior host plant.
Spotting Aphids on Tomatoes
In both cases, the aphids are only about 1/8 “inch long and blend in with the plant’s foliage.
They prefer the undersides of leaves can make them even more difficult to spot with the naked eye, but there are three easy tests to identify a potential aphid infestation: the shake test, spot test, and trail test.
You can spot aphids using the shake test, which involves shaking a leaf over a paper towel to see if anything falls off the underside.
The spot test is another good method, where you look for signs of leaf curl or discolored spots on the leaves.
The trail test requires an examination of the stem and surrounding dirt for signs of ants.
Ants use aphids as cattle, so an infested plant will often have a trail of ants leading up to the infested areas, where they milk honeydew from the feeding aphids.
Isolating an Aphid Infestation
Once you’ve verified an infestation, it’s important to eliminate the aphid population problem quickly.
Remember, even though tomatoes can withstand an aphid infestation better than most, they can suffer stunted growth, low yields, or contract diseases the aphids are hosting.
Begin by isolating the plant, if possible, and isolating any nearby plants, as aphids will spread to surrounding plants as an infestation worsens.
For plants that cannot be isolated, your best bet is a combination of foliar sprays and neem soil soak.
Related: Is Neem Oil Safe For Tomato Plants?
In a garden, treat at least two plants outward from the main infestation or treat the entire plot when possible.
Chemical insecticides work great in the short term but can lead to the evolution of “superbugs” that no longer react to the chemicals.
Additionally, these chemicals will add toxins to the tomatoes that your family or customers may consume.
There are many more natural methods, such as horticultural oils and insecticidal soap, both of which may be sprayed or wiped onto the plant.
Homemade aphid sprays using common household products (such as essential oils and vinegar) are also potential allies.
Be sure to test a small area of the plant for sensitivity when using any product with a high acidity or natural chemical components and follow any instructions carefully.
Organic Orchid Control Using Neem Products
A neem foliar spray can be store-bought or homemade and requires spraying down all plant surfaces thoroughly every other day for at least 14 days.
The Neem soil soak or drench may likewise be bought or made at home and will require application once every three weeks.
Remember that neem-based products are more effective than most chemicals, but the results can take a few weeks to become apparent because they block eating and reproductive capabilities.
Neem is safe for use on edible plants and applied to tomatoes up until the day before harvest.
Natural Predators (Beneficial Insects)
By far, your biggest allies in protecting crops such as tomatoes are natural predators.
Many of these can be found already in the area, while others may be purchased and delivered.
You will need to deal with any ants to ensure the predators can safely consume an aphid infestation.
Popular allies include ladybugs and Japanese lady beetles, parasitic wasps, insectivore bird species, and spiders.