what pest is this eating my Tomatoes?

Minderella(9 Lake County FL)July 16, 2011

I have some small black insect/bug eating my tomatoes. Please let me know what they are and how to get rid of them. Mindy K.

This is another tomato I found, looks like some animal has started eating it.

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We have the same problem with those bugs eating our tomatoes too. Also get into the corn and eat the apples. It's like they clean out the inside of the fruit and leave a shell. Would like any information out there on how to control them. thanks for posting your question!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 9:31PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

What state is your "Lake County" located in?

Those look like they are some sort of beetle. Do you have leaf damage as well? It's difficult to tell their size from your pictures, but there are several types of small beetles. Do they jump if you shake the plant? If so they are probably flea beetles, which can range in size from 1/16 to 1/8th inch long. There are over 4,000 varieties of flea beetles and I think this is the most likely culprit.

If they are irridescent and about 5/16 to almost a half inch in length, they may be a Japanese beetle. Looking at your picture, I'm not sure, since there are also many varieties of Japanese beetles, and some are black.

I don't think you have Colorado potato beetle, as they are rather distinctive in appearance since they are Yellowish-brown, oval, convex beetle about 1/2" long with 5 black longitudinal stripes on each wing cover and several black spots on the area behind the head.

Unfortunately any kind of beetle is not easy to control since they are tough little buggers.

Have you tried spraying with insecticidal soap (such as the Safer brand)? If you have just a few plants, a dust buster can be used to vaccuum them off the plants, but you'd have to be very vigilant for that to work. (Empty the vaccuum into a container of soapy water to kill them, I would do it outside because they will jump. I have heard of people who vaccuum up a little sevin dust to kill them, but I'd worry about inhaling it.) Using a trap crop can be effective, but that is probably too late to be useful this year, as would beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes, but they could really help next for year.

The article I've linked below has some good management information in it.


Here is a link that might be useful: Flea Beetle Organic Control Options

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 11:03AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

As I said in your post on the tomato forum, those small guys are cleaning up, not making the primary damage.

See http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/tomato/msg0708515625400.html?2

Here is a link that might be useful: other thread, same pictures, same issue

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 1:32PM
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Minderella(9 Lake County FL)

I posted in the tomato forum because I wasn't getting an answer so I figured no one comes to disease site very often. I am sorry to have done this but needed an answer.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 1:56PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Not a problem.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 12:37PM
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I am in central Indiana and am seeing basically the same thing. I have over 100 plants and for the first few weeks as soon as a tomato started to ripen it would be eaten. I am pretty sure I have narrowed it down to crows. I put up some fakes owls and move them around daily and have hung aluminum pie plates around. Crows are pretty inteligent so you have to keep changing things so they do not become comfortable with the surroundings. I live in the sticks so whenever I see them flying around close I fire a shotgun into the air, like starlings they do not appreciate the noise and seem to remember where it came from. These things seem to be working for me. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 1:25PM
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I can't identify the pest for you, but I can recommend that you use Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to control them. It is approved for organic gardening, is completely natural and has 16 different minerals that are good for your plants. It controls the pests by cutting the exoskeleton and causing severe dehydration, kind of like putting salt on slugs. Just sprinkling your whole garden with DE twice per season should do it. I used it on my lawn and haven't seen a flea or tick since. Good stuff! And inexpensive. A little goes a long way.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:26PM
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