How To Get Rid Of Black Bugs On Tomato Plants (10 Best Ways)

Tomato plants, esteemed for their juicy fruits, often face the menace of black bugs that can compromise their health. In this extensive guide, we’ll explore the various types of black bugs affecting tomato plants, delve into detailed strategies for how to get rid of these bugs, discuss preventive measures to shield your plants from future infestations, and conclude with essential takeaways.

Image of a Ripe tomato plant growing. Fresh bunch of red natural tomatoes on a branch in organic vegetable garden

Common Tomato Pests

Tomato plants are susceptible to various pests that can hinder their growth and productivity. Identifying these common pests is crucial for implementing effective control measures. Let’s explore some of the most common black bugs on tomato plants and how to get rid of them.

1. Aphids

How to Identify Aphids:

Aphids, small and pear-shaped insects, are notorious for congregating on the undersides of leaves, stems, and buds. While there are many different aphid species such as the green peach aphid and red aphids, black aphids are particularly problematic for tomato plants.

Symptoms of Aphids on Tomato Plants: 

An aphid infestation results in the formation of clusters on the undersides of leaves, causing yellowing and distorted growth. One telltale sign is the sticky substance known as honeydew that aphids leave behind on the leaves, making them susceptible to sooty mold.

How to Get Rid of Aphids on Tomato Plants:

Combatting aphids involves deploying natural predators like lady beetles, lacewings, or parasitic wasps. Insecticidal soap, applied as a solution to affected areas, serves as an effective intervention. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the base of tomato plants acts as a deterrent, and companion planting with marigolds or nasturtiums can enhance your defense against aphids.

Closeup image of many small black aphid bugs on a plant leaf in natureYayImages

2. Spider Mites

How to Identify Spider Mites:

Spider mites, tiny arachnids often red or black, are minuscule and can be challenging to spot without magnification. They leave fine webs on the undersides of leaves, a characteristic sign of their presence.

Symptoms of Spider Mites on Tomato Plants:

Spider mites cause stippled, yellowing leaves, especially on the undersides. The delicate webs they spin contribute to the overall unsightliness of affected plants, and the reduction in plant vigor is a clear indication of their impact.

How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Tomato Plants:

Utilizing horticultural oils, such as neem oil, proves effective in suffocating spider mites. Regularly spraying plants with water serves as a physical method to dislodge these pests. Introducing predatory mites as natural enemies can help maintain control over the spider mite population.

Image of red spider mites sitting in a spider web on a plant leaf

3. Stink Bugs

How to Identify Stink Bugs:

Stink bugs, with their shield-shaped bodies, emit an unpleasant odor when disturbed. These pests come in various colors, including shades of brown, green, and black.

Symptoms of Stink Bugs on Tomato Plants:

Feeding by stink bugs results in black spots on tomato fruits and deformed, discolored fruits. These bugs can be found on leaves, stems, and the fruits themselves, posing a threat to the overall quality of the harvest.

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs on Tomato Plants:

Handpicking and disposing of stink bugs is a straightforward yet effective method. Encouraging natural predators like predatory stink bug insects can help keep their populations in check. The use of row covers acts as a physical barrier, preventing direct access to tomato plants. Additionally, planting trap crops like sunflowers or mustard diverts stink bugs away from the main crop.

mage of stink bug (Eocanthecona  furcellata) on green leaves.

4. Flea Beetles

How to Identify Flea Beetles:

Flea beetles are small, jumping insects, often metallic in color, including shades of black. They are agile and can cause noticeable damage to young plants.

Symptoms of Flea Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Infestations by flea beetles are characterized by small holes in leaves, especially on young plants. Shiny, metallic beetles can be found on the foliage, particularly during the early stages of plant growth.

How to Get Rid of Flea Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Protecting young plants with row covers provides a physical barrier against flea beetles. Applying neem oil serves as a deterrent and disrupts their feeding habits. Introducing beneficial nematodes to control larvae in the soil is an eco-friendly approach, and the use of diatomaceous earth around the base of plants acts as an additional protective measure.

Close-up image of Alder Flea Beetle (Agelastica alni) eating and destroying a plan

5. Blister Beetles

How to Identify Blister Beetles:

Blister beetles are elongated insects, often black or gray, with a distinct head and body shape. Their bodies contain cantharidin, a toxic substance that can cause skin irritation.

Symptoms of Blister Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Blister beetles have the potential to defoliate plants, leaving behind skeletonized leaves. Contact with cantharidin, if mishandled, may lead to skin irritation, making them harmful to humans and livestock.

How to Get Rid of Blister Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Handpicking blister beetles with gloves is an effective method, followed by dropping them into a bucket of soapy water for disposal. Planting alfalfa as a companion can attract blister beetles away from tomatoes, and encouraging natural predators like birds, parasitic wasps, and beetles that feed on blister beetle eggs contributes to long-term control.

Large black and blue hue blister beetle Meloe violaceus

6. Colorado Potato Beetles

How to Identify Colorado Potato Beetles:

Colorado potato beetles are oval-shaped insects with distinctive yellow and black stripes on their wing covers. They feed on a variety of solanaceous plants, including tomatoes.

Symptoms of Colorado Potato Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Feeding by Colorado potato beetles results in skeletonized leaves, leaving only veins behind. The larvae, orange and covered in spines, are commonly found on the undersides of leaves.

How to Get Rid of Colorado Potato Beetles on Tomato Plants:

Handpicking both adults and larvae and promptly destroying eggs is a manual but effective method of control. Applying neem oil disrupts the life cycle of Colorado potato beetles, and practicing crop rotation reduces the likelihood of recurring infestations.

A deeper understanding of the characteristics, symptoms, and effective control methods for each type of black bug is vital for maintaining a healthy and thriving tomato garden. Regular monitoring and a combination of preventive and responsive measures will contribute to a successful harvest.

Image of Colorado beetle on potato plant leaves

How to Get Rid of Black Bugs on Tomato Plants

Little black bugs and tiny insects can wreak havoc on tomato plants, but employing various strategies can effectively eliminate these pests from your garden. Let’s explore some strategies for how to get rid of black bugs on tomato plants:

1. Beneficial Insects

Introducing beneficial insects like lady beetles and parasitic wasps can be a great way to get rid of black bugs on tomato plants. These natural predators feed on black bugs, maintaining a balanced ecosystem and preventing infestations. Release these guardians strategically throughout your garden to combat pests effectively.

Follow these steps for the best way to introduce natural predators:

Step 1: Identify Target Pests

Determine the specific black bug species infesting your tomato plants to choose the right beneficial insects. Lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps are common predators.

Step 2: Timing

Introduce beneficial insects at the first sign of pest activity or before populations reach damaging levels. Early intervention ensures effective pest control.

Step 3: Release Technique

Carefully release the beneficial insects near infested areas. Ensure they have access to the underside of leaves, where black bugs often hide. Lady beetles, for example, can be gently released from their container onto plant surfaces.

Step 4: Provide Habitat

Create an environment that encourages the establishment of beneficial insect populations. Plant diverse flowers to attract and sustain these predators throughout the growing season.

2. Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal soap is a safe and effective solution for controlling soft-bodied insects like aphids. Mix a solution in a spray bottle and apply it to the undersides of leaves, where pests often hide. This soap disrupts their cell membranes, eliminating them without harm to beneficial insects or garden plants.

Follow these steps for effective application:

Step 1: Prepare the Solution

Mix insecticidal soap according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that the concentration is appropriate for the specific pest you are targeting.

Step 2: Timing

Apply the soap solution during the early morning or late evening when the temperature is mild. Avoid applying it under direct sunlight, as it may cause damage to the plants.

Step 3: Target Areas

Thoroughly spray the solution on the undersides of leaves, where black bugs, such as aphids, often congregate. Ensure complete coverage, as pests may hide in hard-to-reach areas.

Step 4: Repeat Applications

For persistent infestations, repeat the application every 7-10 days or as recommended on the product label. Monitor the plants for any signs of damage or reinfestation between applications.

3. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, a fine powder, acts as a natural barrier against various pests. Sprinkle it around the base of tomato plants to create a protective shield. Its abrasive nature is lethal to insects but harmless to plants, providing an effective and organic way to get rid of black bugs on tomato plants.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on its application:

Step 1: Selecting Diatomaceous Earth

Choose food-grade diatomaceous earth, ensuring it is free from additives or contaminants. This type is safe for plants, humans, and pets.

Step 2: Protective Measures

Wear a mask and gloves when handling diatomaceous earth to avoid respiratory irritation. Apply the powder on a calm day to prevent it from dispersing in the wind.

Step 3: Application

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of tomato plants, creating a protective barrier. Ensure coverage on the soil surface, as well as on lower leaves where pests might crawl.

Step 4: Reapplication

After rain or heavy watering, reapply diatomaceous earth to maintain its effectiveness. It loses efficacy when wet, so regular reapplication is necessary for continuous pest protection.

4. Horticultural Oils and Neem Oil

Apply horticultural oils or neem oil to the undersides of tomato leaves to suffocate black bugs. These oils block the spiracles of insects, causing their demise without harming the plant or beneficial insects. This method is particularly effective against spider mites and aphids.

Follow these steps for proper application:

Step 1: Choose the Right Product

Select horticultural oils or neem oil from reputable sources. Ensure it is labeled for use on tomatoes and follow recommended concentrations.

Step 2: Timing

Apply these oils during the dormant season or early spring before new growth starts. Avoid application during extreme temperatures or when plants are stressed.

Step 3: Dilution

Dilute the oil according to the product instructions. Apply using a sprayer, covering the undersides of leaves where pests are often found.

Step 4: Regular Monitoring

Inspect plants for signs of pests and reapply horticultural oils or neem oil as needed. Regular applications may be necessary, especially during peak pest seasons.

5. Trap Crops

Plant trap crops strategically to divert black bugs away from your main tomato crop. These sacrificial plants attract pests, protecting your tomatoes while providing an alternative food source for insects. This tactic is especially useful for managing large infestations.

Here’s a guide on implementing trap crops:

Step 1: Selecting Trap Crops

Choose plants that attract black bugs but are less susceptible to their damage. Sunflowers, mustard, or specific varieties that pests prefer are excellent choices.

Step 2: Planting Location

Plant trap crops on the periphery of your main tomato crop. This strategically lures pests away from the primary plants.

Step 3: Regular Inspection

Monitor trap crops closely for pest activity. Treat or remove infested trap plants promptly to prevent the migration of pests back to the main crop.

Step 4: Periodic Rotation

Change trap crop varieties periodically to maintain their effectiveness. Rotate them with crops that pests find attractive to continuously divert black bugs.

6. Row Covers

Install row covers to physically block black bugs from reaching your tomato plants. These covers act as a barrier, preventing direct contact with pests while still allowing essential elements like sunlight and water to nourish your plants. Ideal for protecting young plants during the growing season.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on the correct use of row covers:

Step 1: Selecting Row Covers

Choose row covers made from lightweight, breathable materials to allow sunlight and water penetration. Ensure the covers are large enough to cover the entire row of tomato plants.

Step 2: Installation

Install row covers immediately after transplanting or when the seedlings are established. Place the covers over the plants, securing them with stakes or weights at the edges to prevent pests from crawling underneath.

Step 3: Monitoring

Regularly check the row covers for any damage, and repair or replace them as needed. Inspect plants for signs of stress or pest activity, ensuring that the covers remain effective throughout the growing season.

Step 4: Optimal Timing

Use row covers during periods of high pest activity, such as when adult stink bugs or flea beetles are most active. This strategic timing enhances the effectiveness of the physical barrier.

7. Sticky Traps

Employ yellow sticky traps to monitor and get rid of black bugs on tomato plants. The traps attract flying pests, capturing them before they can lay eggs or cause significant damage. Regularly check and replace the traps to stay ahead of infestations.

Here’s a step-by-step guide for their use:

Step 1: Placement

Hang yellow sticky traps at various heights near tomato plants, focusing on areas with the most pest activity. Install them at the same level as the plants or slightly above.

Step 2: Regular Monitoring

Check the traps regularly to assess pest populations. Replace or reposition traps as needed, especially if they become covered with insects.

Step 3: Strategic Placement

Position traps at the periphery of your garden or in areas vulnerable to pest entry. This helps intercept pests before they reach your tomatoes.

Step 4: Early Intervention

If a significant number of pests are captured, consider implementing targeted control measures to prevent further infestation.

8. Companion Planting

Embrace companion planting by strategically placing plants like basil, marigolds, or nasturtiums near your tomatoes. These companion plants naturally repel black bugs and enhance the overall health of your tomato garden. A well-designed companion planting scheme is a long-term, sustainable strategy.

Follow these steps for effective companion planting:

Step 1: Selecting Companion Plants

Choose companion plants known for their pest-repelling properties. Basil, marigolds, and nasturtiums are excellent choices that deter black bugs.

Step 2: Strategic Placement

Plant companion species throughout your tomato garden, focusing on areas prone to pest infestations. Ensure they are in proximity to tomato plants for maximum effectiveness.

Step 3: Diverse Plantings

Create a diverse garden environment with a variety of companion plants. This diversity disrupts the attraction of black bugs to the tomato crop.

Step 4: Regular Maintenance

Monitor companion plants for signs of pests and diseases. Promptly address any issues to maintain their pest-repelling properties.

9. Crop Rotation

Practice crop rotation to disrupt the life cycles of pests and prevent the buildup of specific insect populations in the soil. Rotate your tomato plants to new locations within your garden each growing season, reducing the risk of recurring black bug infestations.

Here’s a guide on implementing effective crop rotation:

Step 1: Plan Rotation Schedule

Design a crop rotation plan that involves moving tomatoes to different areas of your garden each growing season. Avoid planting tomatoes in the same spot for consecutive years.

Step 2: Select Rotation Crops

Choose crops that are not susceptible to the same pests as tomatoes. Legumes, leafy greens, or root vegetables are excellent options.

Step 3: Soil Improvement

Rotate crops with plants that contribute to soil health. Legumes, for example, fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting subsequent tomato crops.

Step 4: Monitor Soil Conditions

Regularly test soil conditions and fertility levels in different areas of your garden. Adjust your rotation plan based on the soil’s needs and the success of previous crops.

10. Homemade Organic Sprays

Integrating homemade organic sprays into your pest control strategies offers an additional natural and chemical-free method to deter and get rid of black bugs on tomato plants. Adjust the concentration or frequency of application based on the severity of the infestation and the plants’ response.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Ingredients Preparation

Create an organic spray by combining ingredients like garlic, chili pepper, and water. Crush several cloves of garlic and a handful of chili peppers, then mix them in a gallon of water. Let it steep for 24 hours.

Step 2: Strain and Store

After steeping, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer to remove solid particles. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle.

Step 3: Application

Spray the organic solution liberally on the affected tomato plants, especially targeting the areas where black bugs congregate. The pungent smell and spiciness deter pests without harming the plants or beneficial insects.

Step 4: Regular Use

Apply this organic spray every few days or after rainfall to maintain its potency and effectiveness. Monitor plant health and adjust the frequency as needed.

By following these detailed strategies, you can enhance the effectiveness of pest control measures, creating a resilient and thriving environment for your tomato plants. Adapt these guidelines based on your specific garden conditions and the types of pests you encounter. Regular monitoring and proactive interventions remain key to the long-term success of your pest control efforts.

Plastic cans with young tomato seedlings in a soil, the fresh red tomatoes and the bottle with water.

How to Prevent Black Bugs on Tomato Plants

Preventing black bugs on tomato plants requires a proactive and comprehensive approach. By integrating the following practices into your gardening routine, you can create a resilient and pest-resistant environment for your tomato plants.

1. Regular Inspection and Monitoring

Frequent inspection of your tomato plants is crucial for early detection of black bugs. Regular monitoring allows you to identify and address potential infestations before they escalate, preserving the health of your plants.

Here’s how to effectively monitor your tomato plants:

Step 1: Establish a Routine

Set a regular schedule for inspecting your tomato plants. Weekly check-ups during the growing season are crucial for early pest detection.

Step 2: Thorough Examination

Carefully examine the undersides of leaves, stems, and the surrounding soil. Look for signs of black bugs, including pests and their eggs.

Step 3: Record Observations

Keep a gardening journal to document your observations. Note any changes in pest activity, plant health, or the presence of beneficial insects.

Step 4: Early Intervention

At the first sign of black bugs, implement targeted control measures. Early intervention helps prevent the escalation of infestations.

2. Comprehensive Garden Hygiene

Maintain a clean and tidy garden environment to minimize hiding spots for pests. Remove debris, weeds, and decaying plant material, creating an inhospitable environment for black bugs. This practice also helps prevent the development of sooty mold.

Follow these steps to maintain garden hygiene:

Step 1: Regular Cleanup

Schedule regular cleanups to remove debris, fallen leaves, and weeds. These hiding spots provide shelter for black bugs and other pests.

Step 2: Prune Wisely

Practice prudent pruning to maintain good air circulation and limit hiding spots for pests. Remove any dead or diseased plant material promptly.

Step 3: Weed Control

Keep the garden free from weeds, as they can harbor pests and create a conducive environment for black bugs. Mulching can help suppress weed growth.

Step 4: Address Watering Practices

Avoid overwatering, as damp conditions can attract pests. Use a drip irrigation system to keep foliage dry and discourage the development of sooty mold.

3. Implement Companion Planting Strategies

Proactively incorporate companion plants with pest-repelling properties into your garden. Companion planting not only deters black bugs but also enhances biodiversity and promotes a healthier overall ecosystem in your vegetable garden.

Follow these steps to implement companion planting:

Step 1: Research Companion Plants

Identify plants known for their pest-repelling properties. Integrate these into your garden to create a natural barrier against black bugs.

Step 2: Strategic Placement

Place companion plants strategically around your tomato garden. Consider the specific needs of both tomatoes and companion plants for optimal coexistence.

Step 3: Plant Diversity

Embrace a diverse range of companion plants to disrupt the patterns that attract black bugs. This diversity enhances the overall resilience of your garden.

Step 4: Regular Monitoring

Monitor both tomato plants and companion species for signs of pests. Adjust planting arrangements based on the effectiveness of companion plants.

4. Utilize Natural Predators

Encourage the presence of natural predators, such as predatory insects and birds, in your garden. These allies contribute to the balance of your garden ecosystem, keeping black bug populations in check and reducing the need for chemical interventions.

Here’s how to encourage natural predators:

Step 1: Create Habitat Features

Introduce features like birdhouses and insect hotels to attract natural predators. Birds, ladybugs, and predatory insects contribute to a balanced ecosystem.

Step 2: Water Features

Install bird baths or small water features to attract birds. Many bird species are effective in controlling pest populations.

Step 3: Minimize Pesticide Use

Limit the use of broad-spectrum pesticides to avoid harming natural predators. Choose targeted, eco-friendly options when necessary.

Step 4: Educate Yourself

Learn about the natural predators in your region and promote their presence. Encourage biodiversity to create a self-sustaining ecosystem.

5. Regularly Apply Preventive Measures

Even in the absence of a visible infestation, periodically apply preventive measures like insecticidal soap or neem oil. This proactive approach discourages black bugs from settling on your tomato plants, maintaining a pest-resistant environment. Regular care, vigilant monitoring, and strategic interventions are key elements in ensuring a thriving tomato garden free from the menace of black bugs.

Here’s some tips to help:

Step 1: Scheduled Applications

Set a regular schedule for applying preventive measures, even in the absence of visible infestations. This proactive approach maintains a pest-resistant environment.

Step 2: Rotate Preventive Methods

Periodically switch between different preventive measures to prevent pest resistance. For example, alternate between insecticidal soap and neem oil applications.

Step 3: Weather-Dependent Adjustments

Adjust preventive measures based on weather conditions. In rainy seasons, consider increasing application frequency to counter heightened pest activity.

Step 4: Integrate with Other Practices

Combine preventive measures with regular care practices. Address soil health, provide adequate nutrition, and ensure proper sunlight to enhance the overall vitality of tomato plants.

By integrating these detailed strategies into your gardening routine, you create a proactive and comprehensive defense against black bugs on tomato plants. Tailor these practices to your specific garden conditions and consistently adapt based on observations and seasonal changes.

Beautiful tomatoes plant on branch in green house in foreground


In conclusion, safeguarding your tomato plants from black bugs demands a comprehensive strategy that encompasses identification, eradication, and prevention. By integrating natural predators, organic solutions, and strategic gardening practices, you can create a resilient and pest-resistant tomato garden. Regular monitoring, good hygiene, and proactive prevention are the keys to ensuring a thriving tomato harvest and healthy plants, free from the threat of black bugs. Embrace these strategies, and relish the fruits of a healthy and pest-free garden for seasons to come.

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