Tomato Russet Mite control

There I was testing out some video equipment in the garden and later realised that I had enough footage to edit into a video story. The story teller has put himself in the video as well!

In this video I talk about controlling/suppressing tomato russet mite (Aculops lycopersici) so that the last of my tomatoes can ripen.

Tomato russet mite is a widespread, microscopic but serious sap-sucking pest of tomato plants particularly during hot weather. The pest may enter your garden on hot winds. Adult mites are minute (about 0. 2mm long), torpedo-shaped and white to yellowish in colour. Nymphs are similar in shape, white and smaller.

Tomato russet mites usually feed on the underside of leaves. The first symptoms are usually seen on the lower leaves and progressively move up the plant. Leaves initially turn a silvery colour, but later turn bronze, curl downwards and become dry. Stems and leaf stalks become smooth and brownish.

Tomato russet mites breed extremely quickly and can complete their life cycle in less than a week during hot weather. Each female lays about 50 eggs, which combined with their rapid life cycle means numbers of mites increase very rapidly. The mites can be controlled with sprays of insecticidal soap, lime sulphur, or wettable sulphur.

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Tomato fly – revisited

An email conversation with an entomologist from New South Wales prompted the addition of a paragraph (in bold) to this article from about a year ago.

I picked a tomato off the bush the other day and noticed a little hole in it. I cut it open and saw that the contents were looking a bit ordinary, as if it was about to rot. Under higher magnification I could see the culprits – fly larvae – yep, maggots! The image below shows a close-up of one.

tomato fly larva

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What’s good about ants? Plenty.

Many people, especially gardeners, only see ants as pests, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. These days I work weekends in a garden centre, and when summer arrived every second customer I encountered wanted a product to kill ants. One person even asked me for the “Agent Orange” of ant insecticides! They were somewhat bemused when I asked “What sort of ants are they, and why do you want to kill them?”

ponerine ant
This harmless ponerine ant is holding a water drop in its mandibles.

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