This is a complete guide that will help you identify and control one of the sap-feeding pests, mites on the tomato plants.
I have utilized my experience, and brainstormed several books, articles, and gardening journals to prepare this comprehensive guide.
Keep reading to know more!
- What Are Mites And How It Harms Tomato Plants?
- How To Confirm That Mites Are Troubling Your Tomato Plants?
- Natural Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
- Physical Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
- Chemical Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
- How To Prevent Mites In Tomato Plants?
- What Causes Mites Attacks In Tomato Plants?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Mites And How It Harms Tomato Plants?
Spider mites are tiny mites attacking tomato plants. They are the size of a grain of salt with two dark spots on their backs and a shorter life cycle.
Spider mites usually feed on the underside of the tomato leaves and, eventually, the whole plant.
How To Confirm That Mites Are Troubling Your Tomato Plants?
Pay close attention to your tomato plants. If you observe tiny yellow dots on the top of the leaves, or curling, speckled, discolouration of leaves, it indicates the presence of spider mites.
Check the undersides and look for the tiny webs, further confirming their presence. Another telltale is the presence of cayenne-coloured spots on the white paper when tapped on the leaf.
For more information, click this video:
Natural Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
The natural ways to control mites on tomato plants are using hot pepper spray, garlic spray, DE, neem oil, and horticultural oils. You may also release beneficial predators to control spider mites on tomato plants.
Method 1- Use Hot Pepper Spray
Hot pepper spray can be used to control spider mites on tomato plants due to its pungency.
- Prepare hot pepper spray– Add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper flakes to one cup of water. Transfer it to a spray bottle. Allow them to sit for at least 24 hours.
- Spray hot pepper spray– Spray the soil with the spray to deter the mites away from harming your tomato plants.
Method 2- Apply Garlic Spray
Garlic sprays can also be used to control spider mites’ infestation on tomato plants due to their pungency.
- Prepare garlic spray– Mash two garlic cloves and add them to a liter of water. Allow them to sit overnight. Strain the mixture and transfer them to a spray bottle.
- Use garlic spray– Spray the soil around the tomato plants with this mixture. This will keep away the mites from attacking the tomato plants.
Method 3- Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Diatomaceous earth is the powdered fossilized skeletons of aquatic plants. It is popularly used to control insects.
- Sprinkle DE powder– Purchase organic high-grade DE from a garden store. Sprinkle the powder in unbroken rings around the tomato plants in the soil. Alternatively, dust the powder directly on the leaves of the tomato plants. This will prevent the mites from reaching the tomato plants.
- Reapply the powder– Reapply the powder if you have soaked the plants wet or it has rained. Take care not to apply DE on the flowers as it may harm the bees.
Method 4- Spray Horticultural Oil
Horticultural oil extracted from plants can be used successfully to control mites. It is cost-effective and non-toxic to both plants and animals.
- Purchase the horticultural oil– You may buy superior or horticultural oils. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before using the oil on tomato plants.
- Spray the oil– Spray the oil directly on the tomato plants. Take care to spray on the undersides of the leaves which are the hiding spots of the mites. Do not use these oils on water-stressed plants. Space the horticultural oil and sulfur-containing pesticides by at least 30 days.
Method 5 –Apply Neem Oil
Neem oil spray is one of the natural ways of controlling the mite population on the tomato plants. It is promising as it has shown very low toxicity to beneficial organisms.
- Prepare neem oil spray– Mix 1.5 teaspoons of neem oil concentrate with a teaspoon of mild liquid soap and a liter of lukewarm water.
- Spray the neem oil– Shake the contents well and spray the diluted neem oil directly on the undersides of the leaves.
Check out this video for more information:
Method 6 – Release Of Predatory Mites
The natural predators of spider mites are beetles and lacewings. The release of these natural predators may reduce the spider mite population.
- Purchase the natural predators– Purchase the natural predators for spider mites from insectaries or online.
- Release the predators– You may release these natural predators to the tomato garden to reduce the spider mite population.
Here is a useful video on controlling spider mites using beneficial predators:
Physical Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
Removing the infested plant foliage and spraying the infested leaves with hard blasts of water, especially on the undersides of the leaves, is the most effective and non-toxic method of controlling spider mites.
Method 1- Use a Water Hose
The best way to control spider mites is by spraying the infested leaves with a forceful jet of water using a hose. This will remove the spider mites away.
- Spray using a hose – First, remove the infested plants. Spray the tomato plants with a water hose, especially on the undersides of the leaves.
- Repeat spraying – You may repeat spraying water weekly to keep the mites away from the tomatoes. You may also place the potted plants in the saucer with water to retain moisture and deter mites.
Check out this video for controlling spider mites:
Chemical Ways To Control Mites On Tomato Plants
Insecticidal soaps and Abamecting are used to control mites and are safe to use. However, heavier-duty miticides, including malathion, and kelthane are highly regulated and may be toxic. They should be reserved for serious infestations.
Method 1- Spray Insecticidal soap On Plants
Insecticidal soaps can be used to manage and control spider mite attacks on tomato plants. It has fewer adverse effects on beneficial insects and the environment.
- Prepare the insecticidal spray– Mix a teaspoon of mild liquid insecticidal soap with a liter of warm water. Transfer to a spray bottle. Alternatively, you may purchase them at a garden store.
- Spray onto tomato plants– Spray the soap on the undersides of the infested leaves. Avoid using the spray on water-stressed plants.
Check out this video for more information on using insecticidal soap for spider mite control:
Method 2- Apply Abamectin
Abamectin is an effective miticide to control the spider mite population. It functions as a nerve toxin when ingested by mites.
- Prepare the abamectin solution– Follow the manufacturer`s instructions and dilute the abamectin.
- Spray the plants– Spray the infested leaves with diluted miticides. Re-apply as required depending on the severity of infection.
How To Prevent Mites In Tomato Plants?
Keep the air humid around tomato plants to deter spider mites. Also, use black mulch to retain moisture. Remove the infested crop and destroy them to prevent the spread of infection.
Method 1- End Of Season Cleanup
After the harvest, remove the remains from the previous crops and destroy them if infected before planting new crops. Also, wash the stakes used to hold the infested crops with soap and dry them under direct sunlight to avoid the transfer of mites.
Method 2- Use Black Mulch
Apply a layer of black mulch about three inches on the soil around the tomato plants to retain moisture. Also, water the tomato plants regularly to prevent rot and spider mite infestation.
Method 3- Quarantine The New Plants
While purchasing new plants, inspect carefully if they show any sign of spider mites. It is preferable to quarantine these plants until you confirm that they don’t carry any infections.
What Causes Mites Attacks In Tomato Plants?
Spider mites favor hot and dry conditions. If your tomato plants are not well-hydrated and exposed to hot afternoon sun for a long period, it makes them prone to spider mites.
Also, heat, long periods of drought, and water cause mite attacks in tomato plants. The presence of a large number of weeds and inappropriate use of insecticides may cause a buildup of mites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, pyrethroid pesticides blended with other chemicals can be used safely to control spider mites. Pyrethrin is a natural derivate of chrysanthemum flowers and is safer than other synthetic chemical pesticides.
The tomato plants can recover from a minor spider mite infestation with proper attention. Remove the infested plant foliage and spray the plants with insecticidal soap and oils to reduce the spider mite populations. But, it is difficult to save the heavily infested plants.
I am hopeful this guide has helped you with various methods to control the spider mite infestation on tomato plants and save the plant from future attacks.
I am interested to hear if you have tried any other method that has worked for you.
Do share the guide with your gardening friends to help them out too!