What are these bugs on my tomato plant stem?

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by socalclueless, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. socalclueless

    socalclueless Member

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    Several stem sections of my tomato plant have become covered with black bugs, which in turn seem to have attracted ants. The plant otherwise looks pretty healthy and is still producing tomatoes. Anyone know what these bugs are, and whether they're harmful? How do I get rid of them? I live in Southern California, about three miles from the coast. Thank you.
     

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  2. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    can't really see too well - pic is not close-up enough.

    probably aphids that the ants are 'farming'. blast with water from the hose to clear off the aphids and the ants should do away as well. repeat as necessary to keep them away.
     
  3. socalclueless

    socalclueless Member

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    Hi Joclyn, they don't really look like aphids. They are definitely black, and are larger than the ants around them. Look more like beetles. I'll try to take a better photo tonight.
     
  4. Hartley Botanic

    Hartley Botanic Active Member

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    Looks like aphids to me.

    The ants could be an effective and organic enough solution to them, otherwise you can spray with soapy water, or I hear mint tea can work also.

    Edit: Okay then, maybe not, haha.

    All I can think of are flea beetles, but they again, are small. Will keep thinking...
     
  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Could be scale as well. The ants feed off the honeydew excreted by these pests.
     
  6. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    some aphids are black; others aren't :) could be some kind of scale as well. ants will farm either bug.

    and could be some kind of beetle also. pic is too small to realy see them well enough. if you can get a better close up of them, please post it!

    yup, soapy water might be better than just a blast of the plain stuff from the hose...the soapy stuff will kill them, rather than blow them away (which leaves it open for them to return).
     
  7. Hartley Botanic

    Hartley Botanic Active Member

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    Let us know how the unfortunate infestation is going and how you are coping with it socalclueless! I am interested in how this goes.
     
  8. jreidsma

    jreidsma Active Member

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    From what I can see from the pic they look like
    1. immature box elder bugs, leaf footed bugs, or any other insects belonging to the "true insect" family
    2. scale insects
    3. could be aphids or some type of mealy bug
     
  9. arboretumglen2000

    arboretumglen2000 Member

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    If they are black and spiky (not sure how else to describe them) they are probably larvae of Buffalo Treehoppers. You may see a few adults (green with a spike on either side of the head) among the larvae. In So Cal I have seen them on tomatoes and peppers growing through the winter and cestrums year round.

    Control is difficult, they are large enough that a blast of water may dislodge them but they can crawl right back up. I usually put a pair of leather gloves on and gently squish them. Strong enough to squisk but not so hard you crush the stems. Insecticial soap would probably work too, but squishing is more satisfying....
     
  10. maryif

    maryif Member

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    http://www.whatsthatbug.com/2009/04/05/keeled-treehopper-nymphs/

    It's hard to tell from your pic, but if they are like mine here in southern california, they are Keeled Treehopper Nymphs & they suck the life out of everything! lol...

    here is another site with some more information on them http://blog.hmns.org/?tag=keeled-treehopper

    They do have the usual natural predators like lady bugs, mantis, spiders, etc., but they persist because of the ants farming them, looking after them & generally acting like body guards against predators for them. So, you may want to look at getting something to control the ants like tangle-foot applied at the base of the plant or support structures like trellises to keep the ants from getting onto the plant in the first place.
     

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