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Red spider mites or aphids?!! My tomatoes are curling up!

Posted by teufelhundenmom MI (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 10, 08 at 19:13

This is my first time gardening; my neighbor inspired me, but he has told me that because of our weather, my tomatoe plants are curling up and looking terrible! His, meanwhile, look fine! Upon further inspection, I discovered a few tiny red bugs/mites and researched the internet to identify them, but I am having difficulty distinguishing between the two. I hope someone can take a look at my pictures and tell me what I'm dealing with and how to combat it!

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As you can see (hopefully!), the leaves on the plant are curling up (nearly all of my plants look this way!)and these little pests are sprinkles all over them. I tried Sevin dust and also sprayed a little pyrethrin just to see if they would die, but they're still moving!!! Please, somebody, help!!!


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RE: Red spider mites or aphids?!! My tomatoes are curling up!

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 11, 08 at 1:38

The small critters resemble aphids. (I would say "are" aphids but the photos are rather small!)

When it comes to the narrow and twisty growth, and also because you say it's on nearly all your plants, I suspect weed killer damage.

So, what do you use?

And if you don't use weed killer, do you have a "garden helper" among family, friends or neighbors with good intentions?


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RE: Red spider mites or aphids?!! My tomatoes are curling up!

Initially I thought it was the roundup that my well intentioned friend sprayed along my fence line (same friend who raked through the pepper seeds I had just planted!), but after seeing the little red bugs and reading up on the damage they do to tomato plants, I kind of let him off the hook and settled on the aphids being to blame. I tried to enlarge the pics, but it wouldn't let me save it "big." They have antenae, which the spider mites don't have, so I guess they must be aphids. The twisty growth is terrible, the leaves are now tight little balls on most of my plants. I have had blossom end rot on one plant, so I applied lime, but that hasn't solved the aphid problem, nor has it done anything to prevent new growth from curling up. I have recently applied a soapy mixture of insecticide, but have not reapplied the sevin dust. I am now in the process of "pruning" the twisty leaves off, but the plants I've done this to look like little spindly green sticks in the dirt.

What now?!!! Do I dig them up and throw them out or wait, pray, and hope for the best? Thank you sooo much!!!


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RE: Red spider mites or aphids?!! My tomatoes are curling up!

I have the exact same issue with my two tomato plants, the pictures of the leaves look exactly the same. I do not believe it's weed killer that is effecting them, however I cannot be 100% sure as my garden borders two other fences from the neighbors. I am also treating for aphids as I found a few on some of the leaves. They don't seem to be pulling out of it either. I'm not trying to hijack the thread, just hoping someone responds with an answer to your last question. :)

Is there a recovery from aphid damage? if so how long? I know with weed killer it's a guessing game they could come out of it or they could end up dying.

Anyway, I'm glad I found someone with a similar issue.


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RE: Red spider mites or aphids?!! My tomatoes are curling up!

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 19, 08 at 2:20

You said: "Initially I thought it was the roundup ..."

That could be damge from weed killer. But Roundup typically causes a yellowing of new growth. Instead, perhaps they got a dose of a lawn weed-and-feed, or other weed killer for lawns?

If it's weed killer damage, only time will tell whether or not they'll recover because it all depends upon how much they absorbed.

But after re-reading your original post, I see that you referred to "these little pests are sprinkles all over them..."

Furthere, you said "I tried Sevin dust and also sprayed a little pyrethrin just to see if they would die, but they're still moving!"

Those "little sprinkles" may well be aphids, also their cast skins. If so, Sevin won't do a thing.

Instead, try direct hits of insecticidal soap.


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