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Can anyone tell me what this black stuff is and if I need to do anything about it?  It washes off of the fruit but it's spreading all over the garden.  It's even on my tomato hangers.  Btw, ignore the white spots, they're just aphid corpses.

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looks like mold.

Hey Chris,

Could be something fed by all the aphid corpses. What did you do to kill all those aphids? First glance I was sure it was white flies.

Fungus gnats will leave black mold looking coatings all over your tomatoes as well, especially the stalks.

I just ordered in about 80.00 worth of natural predators to combat fungus gnats and white flies. (shipping is a bummer on "live critters")  About 20 sticky tapes have done a bang up job already. Killed millions I would guess. Haven't run into the aphids yet That's next no doubt.

AP is great, GH life a bit more challenging, but so nice on a cold ... We've had about 8" of rain in the last few days here in the mtns. Turning to snow soon.

I'm afraid my method of killing aphids probably won't work the same way where you are.  I have an outdoor system in central Florida, so for the most part I just wait for the predators to show up.  I was unable to attract ladybugs so I ordered some of those but I also have a lot of brown lacewings, the occasional green lacewing, and some kind of parasitic wasp that lays eggs in aphids.  All but the ladybugs just showed up on their own, mostly right after I ordered the ladybugs.  I'm also very careful when trimming the plants to check everything I cut off for beneficial insect eggs, larvae, pupae or adults.  If I spot it before cutting I just leave it alone, but if I spot it after cutting it I lay it back up in the plant and hope for the best.

Mold or early stages of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Here is a description: Small, chocolate-brown circular spots that first appear in the terminal of the plant.Leaves may become wilted, and as the disease progresses the leaves will become brittle and appear scorched.There may be black streaks on petioles of some leaves.The presence of thrips insects is necessary for virus transmission.

Not sure about "winning" but I am definitely "learning" :-) All good to know. Thanks guys. Hope you beat it Chris. My LBs arrive tomorrow. Now I have to be able to tell good eggs from bad eggs. Yikes!

It's not too bad.  Green lacewing eggs and Ladybug eggs are fairly distinctive, just do a google image search for those terms.

I don't have any thrips so I don't think its Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus.  I'm leaning towards some form of mold,  It's not damaging the plant that I can see, it seems to be just sitting on top of the leaves.  It's probably growing on the honeydew.

I do have some kind of tiny flying bug but I haven't been able to get a good look at one through the magnifying glass so no idea what it is.  I guess it could be fungus gnats, but my second picture makes me think mold.

Many plants will get this from the aphids.  It has something to do with their waste.  I have never seen it on tomatoes though.

Here's a little identification guide.  All ladybugs in various stages, all found on 2 plants about an hour ago.  I also found an adult brown lacewing but it flew away before we got the camera out.

The first two pictures are two ladybug larvae on the same plant.

Next is a ladybug and the empty pupae it came out of on a second plant.

Finally, ladybug eggs.  This is the same plant as the adult.

Photos by Frank Cates

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