What are these little white things on my tomatoes?

joflo723(9b)August 13, 2013

I've noticed several of these on my tomato plants. The ants have taken a great interest in them. I don't know if they are eating them or just tending to them, but they're always around them. When I take one off to inspect, it is very soft and looks like a tiny tiny cocoon. Any ideas?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Looks like mealybugs to me.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 10:11PM
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joflo723(9b)

oops posted twice

This post was edited by joflo723 on Wed, Aug 14, 13 at 7:53

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 7:50AM
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joflo723(9b)

OMG you are right! I read that ants 'milk' them for nectar. That explains the ants around them all the time! I'm posting a link to the YouTube video below that I watched that shows how they farm these insects. It really is cool. However, as much as I love these kinds of wonders of nature, the mealybugs are going to have to go, since I also read that they suck the sap out of plants causing leaf drop. I don't see too many of them yet, so hopefully I can get rid of them quickly.
Thank you so much!

Here is a link that might be useful: Video of Ants Farming Mealybugs

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 7:51AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's not nectar that the ants are interested in but their excretion we call 'honey dew '. What makes it sweet is all of the plant sugars these insects (and others like them) suck up all day, every day.

A large population is required to cause signifant plant damage, so I'd be on the watch for other issues that may be causing problems.

Very nice video! It's amazing what goes on in our world....if only we would notice.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:26AM
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