How to Kill Tortoise Beetles on Tomato Plants


As their name suggests, tortoise beetles look like miniature turtles, though they only measure 1/4 inch in length. Tortoise beetles are not a common garden pest, though they may occasionally show up on tomatoes plants where they'll chew holes in both the tomato fruit and the plant's foliage. Remove and kill tortoise beetles on your tomato plants to preserve your crop's health and appearance.

Step 1

Fill a bucket with soapy water. Place the bucket under your tomato bush or vine.

Step 2

Shake the tomato plant vigorously. This dislodges the tortoise beetles, drowning them in the soapy water.

Step 3

Keep the beetles from returning. Shoot down the tomato plant with a strong jet of water every time you water the plant. This deters the beetles from congregating on your tomatoes.

Step 4

Apply a chemical insecticidal soap intended for general insect control, such as those formulated with neem oil and available from all nurseries and garden stores. Mist the soap on all exposed surfaces of your tomato plant to kill tortoise beetles and other bugs upon contact.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Water hose
  • Insecticidal soap


  • "American Tomato: The Complete Guide to Growing and Using Tomatoes"; Robert Hendrickson; 2006
  • "Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver"; Fern Bradley; 2007
  • University of New Hampshire: Tortoise Beetles
Keywords: kill tortoise beetles, tomato plant pests, remove tortoise beetles

About this Author

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.