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Information on Bugs on the Roots of a Tomato

    Tomato Pests

    • Tomatoes may be affected by boring, chewing or sucking insects. Boring insects get inside the stems and roots of a plant and disrupt the vascular system and flow of nutrients and moisture. Chewing insects do their damage primarily to the leaves. Their chewing can damage leaves enough to adversely affect photosynthesis. Sucking insects attack leaves and stems and seriously reduce the vigor of the plants. Insect pests that attack roots are most likely chewing or boring insects.

    Cut Worms

    • One of the common pests that attack tomato roots is the cut worm. They are legless worm-like insects that measure 1 1/2 inches in length. They live in the upper surface of the soil and primarily eat the lower stems of plants but may also eat the upper feeder roots of tomato plants. The large black, gray or mottled caterpillars are easy to find in the evening. They curl up in a C-shape and can be picked out by the light of a flashlight and destroyed.

    Southern Potato Wireworm

    • The southern potato wireworm is and equal opportunity pest that will eat most plants in the nightshade family. Tomatoes are part of this group and the pest will make ragged, irregular holes in the roots. The worm is slender and wiry, with three pairs of legs at the head and a pair of fleshy prolegs at the rear end. The head is reddish-gold to orange and the body is white, cream or yellow gray. The pest may get just 11/16 of an inch long.

    Root Knot Nematodes

    • Nematodes may be beneficial insects or insidious plant destroyers. Root knot nematodes are common pests of many types of plants. They are most prevalent on light, sandy soils which tomatoes thrive in. The roots become deformed and swollen and the plant is stunted and wilt. Crop rotation is an important preventative measure in tomato cultivation. The nematodes are worm-like and very tiny and difficult to see with the naked eye. There are also resistant varieties of tomato plants that are not as susceptible to root knot nematodes.



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