Whiteflies on Tomatoes – When you grow your own vegetable garden, you have to face the inevitable task of pest control. Plants are under a constant danger of being attacked by different types of pests, insects, diseases, etc. Whiteflies are among the many enemies of your vegetable garden plants, particularly the prized tomatoes. Unless you take proper care and control these pesky pests, they can cause a lot of damage to the plant in no time. It is important to understand the effects of whiteflies on tomatoes and the various preventive measures you can take to keep them away.
What are whiteflies?
Whiteflies are one of the most common pests found on vegetable plants like tomatoes. Whiteflies are not really flown. They are closely related to mealybugs, aphids, and scales. These white moth-like creatures are about 1/16th to 1/10th of an inch. Though they all look alike, there are two major varieties namely, greenhouse whiteflies and Silverleaf whiteflies. They feed on the sap of the plants and multiply rapidly, spreading all over the plant and across other plants in the vicinity.
Effects of whiteflies on tomato plants
Whiteflies can cause great damage to your growing vegetables. As they suck the life-juice out of the plants, the plants slowly lose their vitality; their leaves turn yellow, become stunted and fall off prematurely. Additionally, just like aphids, they leave behind honeydew that attracts ants, facilitate the formation of sooty mold and spread plant virus. It is, therefore, important to take proper preventive measures to control whiteflies before they cause damage to your tomato plants. There are many natural, organic ways to control these pests.
Nasty pests like whiteflies can be controlled naturally by insects that feed on them such as ladybugs, parasitic wasps, green lacewings, etc. One of the easiest of organic methods to control whiteflies and other such pests is to increase the number of useful insects in your vegetable garden. You can buy parasitic wasps from a garden shop. Ladybugs and green lacewings can be attracted by planting plants like parsley, basil, and dill.
Washing the infected parts of the plant with a water hose is an effective way to remove whiteflies. As this is a chemicals-free method, you can repeat it regularly or every few days until the problem is resolved. Make sure that you spray the backsides of leaves as well. Placing a yellow sticky trap near the infested plant is another good way to kill the whiteflies. A handheld vacuum can also be used to suck off the adult whiteflies from the plant, particularly in the early mornings when they tend to be sluggish.
This is another method for controlling whiteflies on tomatoes and other vegetables. However, it has a limited and short-lived effect on pests. Strong insecticides kill the beneficial insects as well preventing natural pest-control as mentioned above. Consider using insecticides such as an insecticidal soap that contain fatty acids that do not harm the beneficial bugs, other animals or humans.
Use these simple yet effective methods to prevent whiteflies from causing damage to your tomato plants and reap a bountiful harvest in the coming season.