Tomatoes are generally easy to grow. However, like any garden crop, they can sometimes have problems with pest infestations. Whether aphids, tomato hornworms, or tomato fruitworms, many common tomato pests can be controlled via natural pesticides or other controls.
Tomato hornworms are caterpillars that are relatively easy to control. They are green and, as such, can blend in with the stem and leaves of the tomato plant. These 3- to 6-inch-long caterpillars have a spiked horn at the tail, from which they get their name. One sign of tomato hornworms is chewed foliage. If you see chewed foliage, look for excrement on the leaves. Look on the stem and leaves for the caterpillars. If you find them, the best natural way to rid your tomatoes of this pest is a light dusting of diatomaceous earth. After the first light dusting, look for the caterpillars. If you still see a few, apply a second coating.
Ladybugs and Soap
Aphids are a soft bodied, pear-shaped insect that can infest and harm your tomatoes. There are a number of different kinds of aphids, some being brown and others green. Some aphids have wings and fly, others have no wings. If you see an aphid infestation, you have a couple of possible natural ways to control the infestation. The first is using several drops of dish soap in a quart of water. Spray this dilute solution on your tomatoes. The soap in the water will suffocate the aphids. If your infestation is severe, you may need to increase the amount of soap to 10 to 15 drops and reapply the soap solution several times. Another popular solution to aphids on tomatoes and other plants is to release ladybugs on your tomatoes. Ladybugs are one of the aphids' natural predators.
Although it needs to be done at planting, if you have problems with tomato fruitworm in your area, companion planting can be a good way to naturally control pests. Sweet corn, and to a lesser extent field corn, can help to keep tomato fruitworm from infesting your tomatoes. Tomato fruitworm is naturally attracted to corn, with a particular preference for sweet corn, according to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
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