More Pesky Tomato Pests

By on July 08, 2014

Many pests love to munch on tomato plants and fruit

Summer is time for our beloved tomato plants to yield the beautiful fruits of our labor. Bright red, yellow, rainbow or green fruits hang on the vine between green leaves waiting for the perfect time for picking. Then we notice holes in the leaves and fruit, and it is time for battle. Most of us are familiar with tomato hornworms but there are many other pesky pests that love to munch our plants.

In our latest video, Tricia talks about our foe, the tomato hornworm. The following is a brief introduction to some other pests potentially lurking around our tomato plants.

Beet Armyworm

Beet Armyworm

According to the UC Davis IPM website, in certain areas, the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, may be the most common pest attacking tomato plants. Hatching larvae feed on the leaves near the egg cluster laid by the female moth. As they grow and migrate, the worms feed on the leaves and fruit as well. To control the pest use a product which contains spinosad or Bacillus thuringiensis and is labeled to control the beet armyworm.

flea beetle photo

Flea Beetles

Flea Beetles, Epitrix hirtipennis, are common pests of tomato seedlings. The adult will chew holes in the leaves while the larvae will do damage to the underside of the leaf. Large tomato plants are not usually killed by these pests, however, young plants can be wiped out if the flea beetle population is high. For appropriate management consult the UC IPM Online website.

Tomato Russet Mite

Aculops lycopersici, are small but very damaging to the tomato leaves and stems. They start their onslaught at the base of the plant and work their way up causing a bronze or russet-colored appearance to the leaves. If left untreated, the russet mites can kill your beloved tomato plant. Acceptable management can include sulfur dust or sprays labeled for use on these pests.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug eggs

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

A fairly new pest emerging, especially in California, is the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, a native to Eastern Asia. The pest was first reported in Pennsylvania in 2001 and in 2013 large populations were found in northern California (Sacramento and Yuba City).

The damage caused by the pest is mostly found on fruit, including the tomato. Plants can be covered with a floating row cover such as Agribon-19 or stink bug traps with a pheromone lure can be placed (well away from the garden) for monitoring presence of the pest.

Assassin bug

The Good Bugs

Be on the look out for the good bugs in the garden as well as the nasty ones. Assassin bugs and green lacewing larvae have demonstrated control of stink bug eggs and birds enjoy munching on the adults and nymphs.

Our prized tomato plants are at risk for other pesky pests such as the Tomato Fruitworm, Aphids, Stink Bugs, Tomato Bugs, Colorado Potato Beetle and the dreaded Tomato Hornworm. If you did not see your pest here or would like more information about tomato diseases, visit the UC Davis IPM website, a fantastic resource for the home gardener and farmer.

Photo Credits

  • Beet Armyworm (2004) Nicotine Keeps Leaf-Loving Herbivores at Bay. PLoS Biol 2(8): e250. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020250
  • Flea Beetles (2007) Russ Ottens, University of Georgia,
  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (2002) David R. Lance, USDA APHIS PPQ,
  • Assassin Bug (2003) Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,

  Comments (8)


I went to this article because my email referenced getting rid of tomato horn worms. I read the article and found no such info only a reference to a video. My email was very deceitful and I am very disappointed.

Posted by Sharon Agregaard on Jul. 12, 2014 at 4:00:12 PM


Might be useful to tell folks that if they see a tomato horn worm with little white eggs on the outside, leave the horn worm on the plant.  Those are parasitic wasp eggs that prey on the horn worm, and we want them to be fruitful and multiply.

Posted by James Eisenstein on Jul. 13, 2014 at 11:27:53 AM

Hello James,

Definitely a good tip! We included it along with pictures of what a parasitized caterpillar looks like in the video on horn worms. Parasitic wasps can be really helpful for other munching caterpillars like cabbage loopers too.

Posted by on Jul. 14, 2014 at 2:46:58 PM

Hello Sharon,

I’m sorry for the confusion. The video on hornworms is the resource and can be found here: In the E-mail, if you click on the large picture of a hornworm it will take you directly to the video, which gives an IPM approach to controlling hornworms. This blog was meant to supplement the video and give information a few more common tomato pests.

Posted by on Jul. 14, 2014 at 2:50:45 PM


I feel Sharon’s pain.  I can read and often do not want to watch a video or allow one to play.  I do not have Internet access at home in the country and I either view this site on my PC at work (no videos allowed) or in a restaurant (my fellow customers probably do not want to hear it.

I wish you would post the verbiage in a readable format for each video.

Posted by Steve W on Jul. 18, 2014 at 9:51:41 AM

Hello Steve,

There are video transcripts available for most of our videos for those in your situation. It does take us maybe a few weeks to get the transcripts up, but we do eventually. Right below the video and the related blog post the transcript shows up when it’s finished.

Posted by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 10:32:41 AM


I really enjoy the videos. Keep up the good work Stephanie!

Posted by Bob on Jul. 19, 2014 at 8:12:09 PM


So happy I found these videos! I know it takes a lot of effort to create them, so thank you for adding the extra content. I have learned something new with every one I’ve watched, even though I’ve been gardening for several decades. Thanks so much.

Posted by Kelli on Oct. 03, 2014 at 10:10:19 AM

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