black eggs on leaves

sheri_ok(6)June 4, 2007

Hi everybody!

Bad news, I found a bunch of tiny black eggs on top of some of my flower leaves today. There is a bunch of them. I am sure that is what is also eating the tomato plant leaves, bean leaves, etc., they don't seem to be bothering the iris, or watermelon leaves. I have been seeing some ants and I think what maybe aphids in the garden. I don't think it would be catepillars, because there would have to be too many, this is occurring in the backyard, side of the yard, and front yard all in the last 2 weeks. Anybody have any idea what they might be? I can post a pic tomorrow evening if that would help.

Hi Dawn,

I was thinking about ordering some tomato plants from Laurel for a fall crop. I was wondering if these would be good for fall, Marianne's peace, Anna's Russian, Paul Robeson, Kellogs breakfast. I know the plants you use for fall are types that are good for heat, but I wanted to try some different heirlooms. I also just got a six pack of Ark. Traveler's from Walmart!! I was surprised to find them there. Thanks Sheri

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Sheri!

I think that virtually anything you order from Laurel has a pretty good chance of producing fall tomatoes. In many ways, it is EASIER to get a good fall crop than a good spring crop. The only trick to it is to keep the plants growing well so they will be ready to bloom and set fruit THE VERY MINUTE that the fall temperatures drop into the right temperature range. Then, all you can do is hope for a late first frost instead of an early first frost. Most years, the first frost does tend to be late as opposed to early, and in those years you will have tons of fall tomatoes.

Of the four you are thinking of ordering, here's what I know about them:

Anna Russian is a family heirloom from Russia. It is an indeterminate oxheart, and oxhearts don't generally produce very many tomatoes per plant. However, Anna is considered a heavy producer for an oxheart. Just don't expect it to produce a LOT of tomatoes like you would see on a high-producing beefsteak. It does have that really thin, wispy foliage like Green Sausage and a few others, so when you see the foliage, don't be fooled into thinking the plant is sick! That strange foliage is normal for it. It also does produce fairly early for an oxheart and the tomatoes are usually pinkish-red in our heat. The fruit are juicy and tasty.

Marianna's Peace produces very large redish-pink beefsteaks on potato-leaved indeterminate vines that get very large. Right now it is one of the tallest plants in my garden, with an height around 6' tall. It produces fruit in about 75 to 80 days and they are pretty good--not too tangy, not too sweet. It is not a heavy producer for me, but it is well worth growing because it is a yummy producer. It is pretty disease-tolerant. The lower leaves tend to yellow earlier than most and more than most, but it doesn't seem to affect the fruit quality or production.

Paul Robeson is an interesting black tomato that has given me fits over the years. I grew it for three years before I got really good fruit set, but the first two years were very dry, hot, droughty years and that may be why I had trouble with it initially. In my garden it gets about 5' to 6' tall and spreads out a moderate amount. The brownish-maroonish fruit are incredibly tasty, though, with that rich, complex, out-of-this-world flavor often found in black tomatoes like Black Krim, Noir de Crimee' and Black From Tula. It is a fairly early producer, slightly faster than Black Krim and Cherokee Purple in my garden most years. Some years it is prone to early blight, but that tends to be more of a problem on spring tomatoes than fall tomatoes. I think it is because our fall tomatoes have less humidity to deal with.

Kellogg's Breakfast is a big ol' whopper of an organge beefsteak tomato. It took me a while to get around to trying it, because I was perfectly happy with Nebraska Wedding, which also produces large orange beefsteak tomatoes. It is a rather large indeterminate with regular-leaf foliage. The leaves are very finely-dissected and sort of narrow compared to most RL plants. It is a fairly late tomato, but so is every other really large orange beefsteak I have grown. The fruit are large and grow in clusters. They turn a gorgeous shade of orange (just wait until you cut into one!) and are very rich and tasty. It is a very meaty tomato with small seed locules. My only complaint with KB is that it is VERY HARD to raise from seed. It is slow to germinate and slow to grow and prone to die at some point along the way, long before it is large enough to put out into the garden. Since you are ordering from Laurel, though, that won't be a problem for you.

I am glad you found Arkansas Traveler. It can outproduce almost anything else in the heat simply because it can handle the heat better than most anything else.

Now, about those black eggs. I always remove and destroy any eggs I find in the garden if I am not sure that they are the eggs of beneficial insects.

There are many things your little black eggs COULD be. If you have aphids, you will find them on the underside of the leaves, and you may have ants traveling up and down the plants to farm the aphids. Aphids can be green, pink, black, red or yellowish.

I've linked a great website from Texas A&M University below. See if you can find an insect on it that matches whatever is eating the leaves in your garden. Or, if you can't find an insect on the TAMU page that matches what is in your garden, then give us a description of the foliar damage. Big holes? Little holes? Damage only on interior portions of leaves or also on edges? Might be flea beetles. They make lots and lots of small holes in the foliage and tend to be worst on newly transplanted plants.


Here is a link that might be useful: TAMU Pest Page

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 9:14AM
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Ok I need to ask how do you order from Laurel? I would love to have some fall tomatoes this year and you can never find tomatoe plants around here to do that


    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:44AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Laurel's Tomato Transplants is a company owned by Laurel Garza and based in California. I have never ordered tomato plants from her since I start all my own from seed, but she has an EXCELLENT reputation and people on the tomato growing forum and other places speak highly of her and the quality of the product she sells. She is one of the few sources for plants grown from Gary Ibsen's Tomatofest Seeds.

I believe that she sells somewhere in the vicinity of 140 to 180 different varieties each year. She ships from early spring through August, or maybe until August arrives. Then, after a brief break, she begins shipping again, in very late September, I think, for people in zones 9 and 10 who plant tomtoes in the fall for winter production. Her plants are grown organically in 4" pots.

I've linked her website for you.


Here is a link that might be useful: Laurel's Heirloom Tomato Transplants

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 1:32PM
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Thanks for all of the helpful information. Some of the holes are tiny, some are very big, mostly on the interior of leaves, on the whole plant, top to bottom. The leaves at the tops of the Black Krims are curling real bad. I saw several different bugs today. I definetly have quite a few winged aphids, and some teeny tiny yellow bugs on the back of the leaves, and some black small bugs. I sprayed a little soap on the bottoms of the plants, but not the top because there were some bees visiting the flowers. I was thinking about waiting until most of the pollinating is over then do a complete soap spray on the entire plant, or should I go ahead and spray now so they don't get out of control?
Mine are just now starting to blossom on most of the plants, because I started them late.
The Cherokee Purple are now coming out of the sunscald, and turning green, but they haven't grown, they are probably less than 12". So I guess they can just be a fall crop. The info. about the Oxheart foilage was helpful, I thought my Orange Oxheart, may have been sickly, because the foilage was so thin and whispy. Thanks Sheri

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 11:35PM
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Dawn Thanks for the link I tried to start some from seeds this year and have 3 that made it this is my first year at starting from seed. But can't find a lot of the heirloom tomatoe plants or the seeds around here so may have to order a couple


    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 12:23AM
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Bessie, I don't know if you are near an Ace Hardware, or an Atwoods, but that is where I found my heirloom plants. I live in a rural area, so I was surprised I found them that easily. I noticed most of them are cleared out now, but for next year, you might check there. Also, I did just get a six pack of Arkansas Traveler's at Walmart. Also, I dont' know how good the seeds are, but I found some heirloom tomato seeds on the seed rack at Walmart. If you order from Laurel and check out the other places, you could have a huge fall tomato garden, like me :) Sheri

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 12:53AM
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Sheri Thanks will check my Atwoods and see will be in walmart today so will check there too


    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 12:32PM
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Sherry, what you found may not be black eggs, but rather frass (or poop!) that a caterpillar expels when feeding on your plants. It would help to know what flowers you found the "material" on. If they were found on flowers, though, and it is frass, it's likely some kind of budworm that is doing the damage. I don't both them because they usually don't appear in large enough numbers to do much damage. They will be kind of a pinky/green mottled color, and some are mostly pink in coloration. I find them a lot on my verbena bonariensis (or verbena-on-a-stick, LOL!).

Some aphids, on the other hand, are black in color, too. Watch them closely and see if you can see them move, flicker, twitch, whatever. If they do, you have aphids. I leave them alone, but it's a personal decision. Usually I have enough lacewings and ladybugs, and other beneficials to consume them. If you don't have some pests in your garden, the beneficialy insects won't come at all.

You can identify lacewing eggs because they look like a tiny white egg on the end of a 1/4" stick-like thread. I find them everywhere. Ladybugs have laid eggs in my garden (clusters of yellow eggs) and have gone thru the nymph stage (look like tiny alligators), and many are in their "cocoon" stage now, with a few adults on my plants to be found. The cocoons look like a orange with a bit of black shell that is hard. From these cocoons will emerge the ladybugs, so if you find these, leave them alone and you'll have plenty of ladybugs to eat your aphids. One ladybug can consume hundreds if not thousands of aphids per day.

If you finally determine that you do have some kind of "black egg", it is close to hatching. Butterfly and moth eggs often turn very dark before hatching. Sometimes you can even see the head capsule of the caterpillar inside the egg. I'd wait and see what they are, in that case, before destroying them. They may be something really worth having eventually. If not, you can smoosh them then.

Like I said, though, it would be helpful to know what plant you're finding them on.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 12:43PM
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Hi Susan,

The black material is on my Daila, Gaillardia, and some on a tomato plant. On the tops of the leaves, rather than bottom, so maybe it is catepillar droppings. What I thought was aphids is a gnat-like insect with wings, most of them black, a few green. I'll look today and see if they flicker, but yesterday about 5pm. they appeared to be just resting on the leaves. (maybe they were gnats!) They were all on top of the leaves too, rather than underneath side. The yellow insects were so tiny, I could barely see them, they were on the underneath side of the leaves, and they moved fast. Maybe I should do the seaweed or kelp spray instead of the soap, I've heard that will help with pests too? I couldn't find it around here, but I have to OKCity next week, I wonder what brand is best? Thanks a million, Sheri

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:38PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If you have seaweed or kelp, go ahead and spray. It is a good plant tonic and will aid the general health of the plant even if it doesn't chase off the bugs.

Susan gave you lots of excellent advice regarding caterpillars (known affectionately to us gardeners who love butterflies as 'cats'), frass, ladybugs., etc. If you want to 'wait and see' if the eggs are some sort of caterpillar, that is fine, but check every day because it might be an undesirable pest you don't want.

If you don't have an abundance of lady bugs, run to the nearest store that sells them and pick up a bag/carton/container. They are the best thing in the world for your garden. I don't do a thing for any bugs to speak of, because I know the lady bugs and green lacewings will take care of them. If there are any that they miss, the soldier bugs will get them later in the season. I had to release lady bugs 3 years in a row to get a really good colony of them established, but I have a large property, so that is not surprising.

Be really careful with soap sprays. Now that it is hot, they can be VERY damaging, especially to tomato plants. If you spray with soap, first spray the plants, then wait 30 to 45 minutes, then spray the plants with water to remove the soap. The soap spray will have had time to kill the bugs, and by removing the soap, you lessen the chance that your foliage will burn.

For what it is worth, most plants can take a LOT of insect damage and bounce back, survive, grow new foliage and fully recover. For example, last week I noticed a tomato hornworm had eaten every single bit of foliage off of a tomato plant. Every single bit. That plant is now leafing out and will be fine. So often we gardeners feel like we should 'do something' to repair any damage we find. Often though, the plants will repair themselves just fine if we leave them alone and let them do it.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 2:36PM
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