I may be behind (some people), they may not all live, my setup might be small. But right now, I can’t get enough of watching the life spring from those seeds! All the potential they ever need was already placed inside, before I even put them in the dirt.
I’ll be straight up with you. This is the first year I’ve had leaf footed bugs on my tomatoes and I am just beginning to learn about them. What I learned first of all…. they’re evil!
I do remember seeing some of these adult bugs last year, I think they were on the sunflowers, maybe. But this is definitely the first time I’ve had a tomato infestation. Usually, my biggest tomato problem is horn worms and blossom end rot. I’ve had a few horn worms this year, no blossom end rot, and now this. 😦 I did see the unusual nymph bugs in our locust thicket in early spring while I was cutting limbs for a fence row.
Leaf footed bug nymphs are red, so they’re easy to spot. Looks like another bug altogether, but it’s not.
Since I am in Texas, AgriLife Extension articles are always a good place for me to start. The article, Finding Leaf-footed Bugs in Your Tomatoes?, helped confirm their identify, but didn’t really offer me many solutions.
Through other articles read, I discovered that there’s a reason I haven’t seen leaf footed bugs on my tomatoes before! Apparently, these bugs are native to the western United States, and have slowly been migrating. The adults overwinter in piles of wood, among other things, and a mild winter will allow them to flourish. Bingo. I saw nymphs in the locust thicket, where we have a brush pile waiting to be burned. We also had a mild winter.
So, obviously, this will be an ongoing thing here on the homestead. My first step has been picking unripe tomatoes. Neil Sperry, in his article, Success with Tomatoes, stated that picking as fruit makes the turn from green toward pink will protect against sunscald and bird pecking and will lose no flavor or nutritional value. I’d like to add, will also give some protection from leaf footed bugs.
So to summarize,
How I’m fighting Leaf Footed Bugs on my tomatoes, Step One:
Pick the tomatoes early.
Yes, I know, that was a little disappointing. As I research and learn what else I can do to protect my tomatoes, I’ll update the information here on the blog. Wish me luck…