What to Put on Tomato Plants to Keep Bugs From Eating the Tomatoes?

Written by lori lapierre
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What to Put on Tomato Plants to Keep Bugs From Eating the Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are easy to grow, but are also wildly popular with any number of garden pests. (Tomato and half of tomato on a white background image by Friday from Fotolia.com)

Despite being considered poisonous just a century ago, tomatoes are now considered to be the most common garden plant. They are easy to grow, and can be nurtured in a plot of ground or in a pot, in a garden or basking on a patio. But the dark green leaves and acidic fruit are also attractive to any number of pests that can destroy the plant or the fruit before harvest. Thankfully, there are various methods of removing these pests before permanent damage is done.

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Insecticidal Soap

Use an insecticidal soap -- such as Concern Insect Killing Soap, Safer Insecticidal Soap, or M-pede -- to kill whiteflies and aphids; both cause tomato leaves to yellow, and leave a sticky solution on plants. Soap is made of a fatty acid that removes an insects outer protective wax coating. The soap can then enter the bug's respiratory system and break down cell membranes. These types of products are considered to be 40% to 50% effective.

Dish Soap

Make a solution of 2 Tbsp dishwashing liquid added to 1 gallon of water, and mix well. Do not use a dishwashing detergent with a degreaser, or one made for automatic dishwashers, as these will not be effective in killing bugs. This solution is similar to insecticidal soap in that the soap kills tomato pests at the cellular level.


The use of insecticides such as bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, or permethrin are recommended for tomatoes, as well. These agents work well on a variety of garden pests, including: stinkbugs, whiteflies, aphids, thrips, spider mites, fleabeatles and various tomato worms.

Sulphur Dust

This product is especially effective against the tomato psyllid -- which injects a toxic saliva into tomato foliage and kills the plant -- and spider mites. Application of the dust disrupts the respiratory system of the pest. While considered a less toxic form of chemical pest control, users must take care not to breathe the product in during application. It is also recommended to avoid contact with skin, as it can be an irritant.

Homemade Remedies

Try a homemade remedy that kills bugs naturally, and causes no harm to the plant: 1) Mix 2 Tbsp of cayenne or hot pepper sauce, 3 to 4 drops of Ivory liquid soap, and 1 qt of water. Let the mixture stand overnight before pouring it into a spray bottle. Apply to the tomato plant, shaking the bottle frequently while spraying. 2) Mix 1 Tbsp canola, 3 to 4 drops of Ivory liquid soap, and 1 qt of water. Shake the mixture well and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray the tomato plant, starting at the top and working down; make sure to get on the underside of the leaves.

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