Small Black Pests On Strawberries - Knowledgebase Question

Rockville, MD
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Question by machine7
May 7, 2000
Late last summer I had several tomato plants (Burpee paste tomatoes) which were attacked by a tiny black pest on the undersides of their leaves. The leaves turned yellow, shriveled and died. I first applied insiecticidal soap and, later, liquid Sevin. Neither was effective (it's *really* hard to apply insecticidal soap to fully grown tomatoes!). Eventually all of the plants were killed. Oddly, it didn't affect any pepper plants, which were very close.

This spring, it appears that the same pest is attacking my Alpine strawberries (Burpee Rugan Improved). New leaves appear crinkled and cupped, and older leaves start turning brown at the edges and eventually get a mottled red and green appearance. The plants are stunted. They have what looks like the same black pests on their undersides and also have a shiny, plastic-wrap looking substance on their tops. This is a second-year crop.

Any ideas?

Answer from NGA
May 7, 2000
First of all, are you sure the "black pest" is an insect? Could it be a fruiting body of a fungus instead. The tomatoes sound like they had one of the blights that affect tomatoes. It's possible that if it were an insect, it transmitted the fungal blight. As for the strawberries, they sound like they have a disease also. It sounds very much like a mosaic disease, with is a bacterial problem that is transmitted by aphids, leaf hoppers, or other pests.

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