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Jul 27, 2011 09:19 PM

Small Black Bugs On My Tomato Plants

The stems (not leaves) on my tomato plants are covered with small black bugs. The bugs are very small but almost look as though they have small wings on them. They don't seem to be doing any damage (that I can see) but it still cant' be good. Any idea what they might be or how I can get rid of them? Does soapy water work to kill all bugs?

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  1. If they are aphids, I think the soapy water would work.

    1. yea, aphids, they can be many colors, most commonly the green color of tissue. They are piercing sucking insects like mosquitos, they do no chewing. The can seriously weaken a plant as they extract the food that's being manufactured. They process and exude (or 'poop') the excess moisture into tiny drops of clear sticky liquid called honeydew. Ants love this honeydew, and will gang up to transport it back to feed their babies underground. They actually 'milk' the aphids for it. Aphids have a very soft body and are affected by soap sprays. Other beatle-like insect with hard shells are NOT. But you've got an easy one here with aphids.

      So, as laine said, you can control them with a soap and water solution put through a spray bottle or tank sprayer, if you have a lot of plants. Most of the major pest control companies have jumped on the Organics bandwagon with a Soap Spray (it is actually a solution of essential fatty acids, not common soap),so you should be able to find it anywhere. Safer brand was the very first. Follow label instructions for dilution rate and suggested application timing. More is not better. I'd caution against spraying during heat. Late afternoon or evening might be best if it's very hot where you are.

      A really good garden know-how book is Rodale's Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. Find it at a used bookstore. All the 60's hippies are downsizing now (like me) and these books are looking for good homes. Good luck!

      1 Reply
      1. re: toodie jane

        Yes, what TJ said! Although, I've mixed soap and water myself with fine results. You should be able to look up which kinds of soap are appropriate if you are a DIY'er like me.

      2. The first thing you should try is just to spray them off with water from a hose.

        1. yeah, try a blast of jet water from your hose, but it's possible they'll just climb back on hours later. We've done the DIY soap/water spray with good results.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pine time

            No. If they're aphids you've broken off their mouth parts so they're forever doomed.