3 Signs of Tomato Worm Infestation
The life of your tomato plant will be filled with all sorts of challenges. And one of the big challenges will be fighting off unpleasant little worms of varying types. Many call them tomato worms and they can threaten the life of your tomato plant. But they can be dealt with easily if immediate action is taken. There will be signs that will indicate that these little buggers are present:
Sign number 1: Presence of tunnels in fruit
The tunnels are caused by the pests known as Bollworms or Fruitworm. They attack the fruit by tunneling into the tomatoes causing it to rot. The fruitworm is found on many different vegetable and commercial crops worldwide. They range in color from green to yellow to pinkish red to chocolate brown depending on its growth stage. It also has four pairs of pro-legs on its abdomen. They resemble fat little caterpillars and will usually be green so they will be hard to spot on your plant.
This pest can be dealt with easily. If you find one, simply pick it off and if you see damaged fruit, pick it off and destroy it. There are also many common bugs that will attack these Bollworms such as parasitic wasps, shield bugs, spiders, ants, ladybirds, damsel bugs, lacewings and birds. Not only do these natural predators fight off Fruitworms, they also fight off other common tomato pests as well!
Sawn off stems on seedlings are another sign
If you notice that your seedlings appear to have stems that have been cleanly cut off then cutworms are the culprit. Cutworms are caterpillars that usually feed at night and destroy more of the plant than they eat. The adults are night flying moths which feed on nectar and do no damage. It is the larvae or caterpillars that are the problem. They strike when the plant is at its weakest which is during the first 3 weeks of its life.
There are 2 ways to combat this pest. One way is mulching which deters cutworms. Placing protective collars is another way. You can do this by placing a collar made of wax paper or aluminum paper or old tin can or old plastic soft drink bottles around the seedling. Make sure it is at least 3 inches in diameter, dug at least 1 inch into the ground to stop diggers and at least 2 inches high to stop high-climbers.
Sign number 3: Wilting of leaves and lumps on roots
The deadliest of the tomato worm pests is the Root Knot Nematode. These microscopic round worms cause dysfunction of the roots. This will weaken the plant and make it vulnerable to allow other diseases and fungi.
Aside from stunted growth and premature wilting of the leaves, the sure sign of root knot nematode is lumps on the roots. Pull up your plant and examine if the roots are swollen and knotted. The only way to get rid of this pest is to sterilize the soil which can also kill all the nutrient in the soil which is such a waste! Prevention is the best thing for this pest.
Rotating your crops will prevent root knot nematode from appearing. Good crop rotation will also help in making the soil more nourishing for your plants and will make sure it is full of essential nutrients. Planting crops other than tomatoes will help deter root knot nematode. Crops such as maize, legumes and members of the grass family will discourage multiplication of this nematode.
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