Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Tomato Pestilence, Enemy Invasion! May 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 5:01 pm
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I’ve been really lucky with the lack of hornworms this year and the evil rodent barrier has been working like a charm.  I’ve had a stink bug here and a stink bug there, but pretty much just pick them off and carry on.  Until, last night, I was inspecting the tomatoes for signs of ripeness, because its about time, and I saw this:

Leaf Miners?

I know, its a horrible picture, but you get the drift.  One poor little tomato, covered in these vile, prehistoric, destructive, violent, bright red beasts.  Holy cow.  I think they are leaf miners.  Please do correct me if I’m incorrect.  Of all the tomato plants, they are only on this one tomato.  I wondered if I should let them have it, pick it off, or burn the house down and just move the hell out.  But, I’d just written a big check to repair my damaged sprinkler system, so I decided on insecticidal soap.  I doused them and they stood their ground defiantly.  At this point, I’m afraid the terrorists might have won.


20 Responses to “Tomato Pestilence, Enemy Invasion!”

  1. thecosmiccowgirl Says:

    hey, lady! sorry to see your pic here. these little buggers have been bugging us for years. they are called leaf-footed bugs. not sure if that’s the same as leaf miners or not. you can knock them off with a hose, but they’ll just come back. we got some special spray from the natural gardener that works, but you have to keep on top of it.

    oye, they will suck the life out of your ‘maters, too. good luck!

    • Leaf footed bugs, that’s right. Leaf miners just make squigly lines on the leaves. These things suck and I hate them! Insecticidal soap did nothing except piss them off, now they’ve moved into the house and are watching the Lifetime Channel just to make me really nuts.

  2. Marc O. Says:

    I think I might need to disagree with the diagnosis of the bug here. I think they are of genus Reduviidae, ie, assassin bugs. These are actually a boon to the vegetable gardener as they nab other pests and suck the life out of them. I have seen these things with a beetle or a bee in their clutches. They should not actually harm your tomatoes or any other vegetable. Their behavior seems to include this clustering in large numbers as they mature, probably for protection from larger bugs. They will eventually scatter and become more solitary. In fact, I see them poised on non-vegetable plants, too, things with woody stems that would not work for a typical insect that feeds off plant juices.

    I have some on my tomatoes – I’ll try to get a good picture. If mine match yours, I’m pretty sure you won’t have to worry. I have left them alone.

    • Marc O. Says:

      Actually meant family here, not genus.

      Though, now that I read about it, leaf-footed bugs can be confused with assassin bugs.

      So, not sure. Hmm.

    • Marc O. Says:

      Yeah, on second inspection, my gang had its dirty little proboscises inside some of my tomatoes. i could see some exit wounds where they had done the deed and moved on. A quick 4-to-1 bath with Seventh Generation dish soap did them in.

      • Thanks Marc. I don’t have any Seventh Generation, so I’ll be trying Mrs. Meyers Geranium dish soap, as soon as I can work up the courage to go back out there.

  3. Hard to believe those small orange things will become the dreaded Leaf-footed stink bug, isn’t it?
    They’re hard to catch but the last couple of years I took a small pail with soapy water and managed to sneak the pail beneath them with one hand while using my other hand to knock them in or make them jump – can at least drown a few that way!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    • So Annie, I have stink bugs on some of my tomatoes too, are these just all the same creature, just in different stages of life? I’ve never seen these before, but they do jump like the dickens! Thanks for your pail suggestion, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Heading back outside to check the status. What is next, locusts?

  4. I am so sorry! That really sucks. I had to fight off some hornworms the other night. I am a newbie so I was like “what the heck are these?!”

  5. Sorry Michael, I doubt anyone forgets their first hornworm experience. I remember mine like it was yesterday. They look like the devil. I think one actually stole my wheelbarrow once, after knawing tomato plants down to the dirt.

  6. Al Jan Says:

    I took about a cup or two of water in a spray bottle, put four squirts of Dawn dish detergent, and went after them. They dropped dead in seconds after hitting them with a direct spray. Sure seems early for them this year. But very glad someone made the post about using soap.
    Skypilot, Richmond, TX

    • Thanks Al,
      I haven’t seen any this year so far, but I’m expecting them since we’ve had so much rain and few freezes. I will try Dawn!

      • Al Jan Says:

        Today I noticed localized damage on the tomato plant where the heavy soap concentration hit it. Might be a good idea to follow-up with a clear water rinse after you watch the little *&%$ die in agony!

  7. lisa williams Says:

    I have them too! What are they and how do I get rid of them?

    • al jan Says:

      Immature stink bugs, I think.

      • Lisa, these are Leaf Footed Bugs, the nymphs of Stink Bugs and they will damage your tomatoes. I had these in 2010, when I wrote this post and they were horrible. I had none last year and have seen one mature stink bug this year, which I squished between my fingers. I would pick them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water, where they will die. Good luck!

  8. Al, rather than spray directly on the tomatoes, I just pick them off and drop into a bucket of soapy water. That way you won’t risk damaging the plant, although soapy water would likely cause little damage. Good Luck!

  9. Al Jan Says:

    With the numbers and density I’m encountering, picking them off by hand is not realistic. Wish it was.

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