Cyphomandra Betacea - Knowledgebase Question

Pittsburgh, PA
Avatar for dkisol
Question by dkisol
January 3, 1998
I have a tomato tree that is 1 yr. old and was growing fine until now. It has very small black insect on leaves. Also lots of dust (?) on leaves that looks like sawdust. I can wipe it off easily. Can you help..?

Answer from NGA
January 3, 1998
I assume that you are referring to a potted plant growing indoors. Unfortunately, you may have two different "beasties" at work here. The first, the black insects, may be aphids. They are small, oval-shaped insects common on houseplants (they mayappear green, white, or dark-colored). If it is feasible, gently hose the plant down to wash off the critters. Aphids are fairly easy to control with regular sprayings of insecticidal soap--concentrate on the new growth and the undersides of the leaves.

The "dust" on the leaves is another problem. Does it look like a white powder? It may be powdery mildew. The sawdust-like symptom you describe is common to borers--but I am not familiar with borers attacking this plant. Can you find evidence of holes in the stems--any indication of just where this "sawdust" is coming from? If it is indeed powdery mildew, try to improve air circulation. Prune out infected leaves, and consider a baking soda spray--mix 1 teaspoon
baking soda per quart of water; add 1/4 tsp mild soap to help it stick to the leaves. Apply this once a week, and gently hose down plant between sprayings.

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