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Little black bugs

Posted by Minderella 9 Lake County (My Page) on
Sun, Jul 17, 11 at 8:51

what pest is this eating my Tomatoes? clip this post email this post what is this?
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Posted by Minderella 9 Lake County (My Page) on Sat, Jul 16, 11 at 13:47

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

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

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RE: Little black bugs

  • Posted by bets z5A ID (My Page) on
    Sun, Jul 17, 11 at 11:04

What state is your "Lake County" located in? Having that information can help someone decide it the answer they have is applicable to your area.

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

RE: Little black bugs

I see you list Florida on your personal page here. You really need to include that in your post ID. There are lots of "Lake Counties" in the country. :)

There are very few beetles that bother tomato fruit with the exception of stink bugs. So I honestly don't think the beetles you are seeing are the real culprits. They are just doing clean up work and coincidental to the damage.

Your first photo shows a tomato with severe sun scald and possible BER (blossom end rot). Did it fall off the tomato or did you pick it off?

The second pic shows damage on the green fruit from birds and tomato fruitworms. Once the damage happens the garbage collector beetles quickly move in to do their job.

Unless you actually see large numbers of the black beetles crawling all over the plant and on healthy fruit as well as damaged fruit I wouldn't worry about them. Instead focus on discovering what is really doing the damage - sun scald, tomato fruitworms, BER, etc.


RE: Little black bugs

Those beetles aren't the culprits. They're "cleaning up" the damage from something else.

So yes, some other animal started eating it (rats?), a secondary rot/spoilage set in (the wrinkled skin at the left in the 2nd image), then the beetles moved in.

The green tomato appears to have caterpillar damage, or slug, or snail. Go out at night, flashlight in hand, to look.

RE: Little black bugs

I picked the tomatoes, and that is when the black bugs come out. I wasn't sure if flea beetles eat the fruit, everywhere I have look it says they eat the leaves. I picked all the tomatoes off my plants that had damage. I hope they go away.

RE: Little black bugs

I hope you'll keep looking for other pests. It is awfully late for growing tomatoes in Florida now anyway. The tomato season is finished there according to most Florida growers until Late September. So you may find that sun scald and delayed ripening with BER and other forms of rot are going to be chronic problems for you.


RE: Little black bugs

I thought maybe she was Lake County, IN, because I noticed something like that on my garden tomatoes. These were at the top of tomatoes latticed in and out of a metal gate which we use for support, so I hardly think it would be rats. They were about the size of a tomato seed but black and round. Can't take pictures, so I am out of luck. I remember Mrs. Stout saying in her book that she planted some for the critters and some for herself. Lots of work for that, but it does happen. Barb

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