The Q&A Archives: Tomato Pests

Question: All my tomato plants developed a silver/gray stain on the leaves, then the leaves shriveled and died. It did not seem to affect the production of tomatoes. I have never experienced this before. Some were heirloom plants, some were not.

Answer: Weather can affect tomato plant leaves. Sometimes intense sunshine can burn the upper tissues of the foliage and yet not affect the fruit. Another possible cause of graying, or stippling of leaves, is damage by spider mite insects. They prefer dry locations and generally feed on the undersides of leaves. They are quite tiny and difficult to see, but they create fine webbing between the leaf and petiole or stem. Sometimes the grayish color is the first indication, and the webbing is the deciding factor. Carefully inspect your plants for signs of spider mites. If you find any, hose them off with a strong stream of water, or use an Insecticidal Soap to control the population.

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