How to get rid of tomatillos bugs?

Maria C
by Maria C
Sow tomatillos this year, and couple days i notice it they are been bitten i look around and i found some disgusting creatures, I've healthy plants besides these incident, i don't want to lose my plants, please any help...
  13 answers
  • Nancy Hand Nancy Hand on Jun 11, 2013
    I think its a potato beetle in the larvae stage. Here is a description what do you think?? Larvae tend to feed in groups, resemble slugs with legs and black heads and cover themselves with their own excrement. Does that sound like them? You can pick them off or spray with insecticide. :)
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jun 12, 2013
    Agree with Nancy. You can hand pick and also spray with insecticidal soap (which you can either do your self, or use Bayer's) You also might want to mulch around your plants with oak leaves. I don't know how effective that would be this year, but it's certainly I would keep in mind for next year. And do rotate that crop. We plant our potatoes on the ground and cover with straw and oak leaves. We use to have a real problem with potato bugs until we started using the oak leaves, no more. Evidently they have all migrated to the neighbor, who still plants his in the traditional method. There's tanin in oak leaves which evidently acts as a deterrent and taste bad to the little pests.
  • Barbara Ann Barbara Ann on Jun 12, 2013
    Catherine, I didn't know tomatillos keep coming back. I live in a condo and had a small area in from of 4 units that the gardning service didn't take care of. So a few of us turned it into a garden for all of us to pull from. First year I planted tomatillos. Got a lot!! Last year I didn't remember planting any, but figured I just forgot. Didn't get fruit worth using. But this year they are all over and full of fruit. Everyone is getting green salsa this year!! I even had to pull some out. Crowding my other tomatoes... Have you had this before?
  • Catherine Smith Catherine Smith on Jun 13, 2013
    Barbara, they don't keep coming back, they are an annual normally, unless you have some volunteers showing up. I'm betting you had so many, that some literal set seed all by themselves. Since you are dealing with what appears to be a small area, rotating crops can be difficult, I suggest this fall, you guys plant some type of cover crop, I use annual rye. But you can check with your local extension office to see what works best in GA. I'm figuring you're in an even warmer zone being south of me. I love annual rye, because the seed is cheap, it germinates quickly, you get a burst of green and cold kills it back. Come spring, you just mow it off and direct plant. It's a great nitrogen fixer, smothers weeds and should help keep the ph of your soil in better balance. :)
  • I get them every year here in Canada and I pick them off and squish them. That seems to be the only way. My gardens are insecticide free.
  • Pay the kids to hand pick ( Or the neighbors kids) we paid a penny a bug and they had a great time competing with each other. ( and they didn't mind the squishing part)
  • Maria C Maria C on Jun 27, 2013
    thank you guys for all your help, Ive been pick them up but they kkep coming back al this point my plants looks naked( hardly leaves ) dont know what todo , ill be lucky if the tree tomatillos made it to the end :(...
  • BuchBoy BuchBoy on Jun 09, 2015
    You should google Three Lined Potato Beetle, that's what you have. The larvae (in your photo) carry their excrement on their backs, so that's the slimy stuff on them. Yuck! Anyhow, handpicking seems the best control, but you can also get Bacillus Thuringensis spray. That's a bacteria that kills the pests but doesn't kill beneficial bugs. Also, they recommend removing any other weed species that these bugs like, especially wild ground cherries.
  • Deb K Deb K on May 05, 2024

    Hi Maria, hope this helps you, they are really gross eh? These are larvae for the three lined Lema. (potato bug)

    The first question to ask is do you need to take action at all. Handpick beetles and larvae and throw them into a pail of soapy water. Squish eggs and larvae.


  • Hand picking to remove them seems to be most effective. However, if they keep coming back, you need another step. I'd check with a local nursery to see what they recommend to apply to the plants or the ground to keep them from returning.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jun 07, 2024

    Here is a great link with what to plant with your tomatillos, called Companion Planting:

  • Dee Dee on Jun 07, 2024

    I wahsed my plants down with dawn and water.