The Q&A Archives: Tomato Pests

Question: My tomato and basil plants are infested with hordes of tiny white bugs which nest on the undersides of the leaves. They swarm out when the plant is disturbed, but then settle back in immediately. I have sprayed the plants with malathion and diazanon, but to no avail. Can you identify this pest for me, and tell me what I can do to eliminate them? Also, is there anything I can use to treat the soil to insure that they won't return next year?

Answer: Sounds as though a large population of Whiteflies has taken up residence on and around your tomato plants. Whiteflies can be controlled with applications of Insecticidal Soap (use according to label directions). You can also reduce the whitefly population by making sticky yellow traps to mount on and near your plants. Take pieces of bright yellow cardboard, (or paint index cards a bright yellow), smear both sides with 'Tanglefoot' or petroleum jelly and hang in the foliage of your plants (or mount on sticks and place at foliage level). The whiteflies will be attracted to the bright yellow color, will fly toward it and become stuck on the surface of the trap. Replace traps as necessary.

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