Tomato plants are known for their resilience and ease of cultivation. But they’re vulnerable to attacks from various insects, the most devastating of which are beetles.
So while organic pesticides are one option, remember that they may also kill beneficial insects.
So, how to get rid of beetles on tomato plants without chemical pesticides? Let me show you!
Identification of Beetles
Before going to how to get rid of beetles on tomato plants, you should know fundamental information about this insect.
What Are Flea Beetles?
Flea beetles resemble fleas in appearance and behavior. They can jump high when attacked thanks to their huge hind legs and glossy, protective exoskeleton.
Flea beetles come in a wide variety of kinds. Some species prey upon various plant life, while others are selective in their host selection.
Garden vegetables such as broccoli, radishes, kale, cabbage, and turnips are especially vulnerable to these pests, as are Nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.
How to Identify Flea Beetles
Flea beetles come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns since there are many different kinds.
They can appear solid, striped, or spotted, and their hues can vary from black to brown with other, more vibrant colors.
Flea beetles are more easily identified by their damage, as detailed below, than by the bugs themselves.
Flea beetles are just around 1/16 of an inch long, and much like fleas, they will run away rapidly if they sense danger.
When Do Flea Beetles Appear?
Adult beetles spend the winter underground or in decaying leaves or grass along the edges of a lawn or field.
At the beginning of the year, they emerge from their dens at the same time humans do. Then, as the weather improves, they start to work.
After hibernating over the winter, adults seek out a healthy host and start feasting. Beetles feed heavily on a host plant before returning to its base to deposit their eggs.
The eggs will develop into white, 1/8- to 1/4-inch-long beetle larvae with blackheads and little legs at the back in about ten days.
Despite appearances, they are not endearing. Beetle larvae depend on plant roots for three to four weeks after hatching.
After this, they enter a pupal state for 7-10 days before emerging for their above-ground forays. So multiple generations each year are possible in tropical areas.
And that will be a problem for your organic garden until you do something about it.
Your treasured broccoli and tomato won’t be in danger if you take the necessary precautions and have a plan of action ready to implement.
First, pupate for around ten days before emerging to enjoy life in the open air as an adult. Multiple generations each year are possible in tropical areas.
Flea Beetle Damage
Adult beetles eat healthy plant life, causing characteristic “shotholes” in the tomato leaves. Look for these holes, particularly in tender young seedlings, because they may do the greatest damage quickly.
Their holes are round and may swiftly wreak havoc on delicate greens. Typically, the newest leaves are the first to be harmed, and they will seem lacey.
Plants growing for some time may typically tolerate a few holes made by flea beetles in their leaves.
However, the true risk comes from the Beatles’ potential to transfer bacterial illnesses like wilt and blight from one plant to another.
The holes may also reduce the overall quality of the leaves in green crops like lettuce and spinach. This means beetles should still be considered a nuisance.
How To Get Rid Of Beetles On Tomato Plants?
The most common methods for eliminating flea beetles from tomato plants are using homemade spray and applying trap crops.
How do you keep beetles off tomatoes?
Contact with soapy water is fatal to flea beetles.
- Mix 1 tsp of mild organic liquid soap plus 1 liter of water is all it takes to produce your organic spray for flea beetles.
- Sprinkle on tomato plants
The adults will be eliminated immediately upon contact with my homemade insecticidal soap spray. However, it is effective only when sprayed immediately on the beetles and has no lasting impact.
Besides, how to get rid of flea beetles on tomato plants?
It’s been believed that mint, basil, and catnip may keep flea beetles at bay.
You may also use sticky trap crops to divert them from your primary harvest before spraying them with soapy water or neem oil. Radishes attract the most flea beetle activity.
How To Prevent Flea Beetles
Flea beetles may be difficult to control, but there are certain measures you can take to protect your garden. Here are some of my advice to protect your tomato garden from black beetles:
- The adults spend the winter sheltered under leaf litter and other organic garden waste. Always take the time in the autumn to clear up your food garden.
- Flea beetles, both larvae and adults, may spend the winter underground. Exposing the adults by tilling or stirring the soil in your organic garden in the autumn will assist in destroying them.
- When flea beetles first appear in the spring, they feast on tender new shoots. So, hold off on planting the seedlings for a while. The plants will have more time to develop and become more resilient. Also, once you plant everything, the flea beetle population can go down.
Homemade Natural Spray For Flea Beetles On Your Tomato Plants
How do I keep Japanese beetles off my tomato plants? Homemade spray, of course. Here are some combinations I use; you can check them out.
Garlic and Pepper Spray
Flea beetles and other nuisance insects may be driven away with a strong spray combining garlic and pepper.
Make this spray by combining one quart of water with one tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder or another spicy pepper powder or sauce and then straining off the solids. This recipe calls for around six garlic cloves.
The resultant liquid is mixed with one tablespoon of environmentally friendly dish soap in a spray bottle, then applied to the tomato. Of course, the spray has to be sprayed regularly and when it rains.
Alcohol and Soap Spray
The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests mixing five parts water, two parts rubbing alcohol, and one tablespoon of mild, biodegradable liquid dish-washing detergent to create a spray that could deter or kill flea beetles.
Before spraying an entire plant with an insecticide, whether homemade or store-bought, it’s always best to check a small area of foliage for signs of burn or damage.
Horticultural Oil Spray
Oils used in gardening kill flea beetle species by suffocating them.
According to the Sierra Club of Canada, you may mix with one tablespoon of dish-washing liquid and 1 cup of vegetable oil.
Then, sprinkle the mixture directly onto the insects after combining one tablespoon with 2 cups of water.
Other Tomato Plant Insect Pests
My suggestions can be used to get rid of adult flea beetles as well as other tomato plant insect pests, such as:
Aphids are a common pest of tomato plants. Aphids are a pest because they feed on plant tissue and cover the undersides of leaves and young stems with sticky honeydew.
There is also a stealthy subterranean bug that preys on tomato plants.
The cutworm is a caterpillar that may be up to an inch (2.5 cm) long and coils into a C shape under the earth, where it can eat away at tender roots and sprouts.
Tomato crops are not the only food source that attracts leafhoppers.
Likewise, curling leaves aren’t the only symptom of a problem caused by these light green, wedge-shaped jumping insects. Leafhoppers are a major vector for several plant-killing infections.
Symptoms of nematode infestation in plants include abnormal root growth, yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunting. In addition, your gardening equipment and boots will quickly get infested.
Sanitation is essential for eliminating these tomato bugs. Clean and disinfect your equipment. Use a 10% bleach/water solution to disinfect any pots you suspect may be contaminated.
All contaminated plants must be uprooted and destroyed.
It’s important to eliminate as much of the contaminated soil as possible. Plant marigolds as a soil treatment; after the flowers have faded, bury them.
Nematodes are repulsed by the chemicals that are emitted.
How to get rid of beetles on tomato plants? There are two common ways: using homemade spray and planting trap crops.
However, if adult flea beetles or other common tomato pests appear in your garden, they can damage it more or less. So, I recommend you should prevent them beforehand.