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How to Kill Tortoise Beetles on Tomato Plants

By Joshua Duvauchelle ; Updated September 21, 2017

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.

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

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

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.

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 Will Need

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


  • Tortoise beetles are rarely present in enough quantity to cause any considerable damage to your garden plants, and insecticides are rarely used against the bugs, according to the University of New Hampshire.

About the Author


Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.