Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is a major disease that also infects peppers, celery, lettuce, eggplant, peanuts, pineapple, many legumes, many ornamentals, and many weeds. In the U.S. the disease is more common in southern states.

Control of TSWV is difficult because it has a wide range of hosts besides tomatoes which allows it to overwinter. Thrips carry the disease, so control in greenhouses is more effective than in the garden where untreated insects can blow in.

How to Identify Spotted Wilt Virus

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
William M. Brown Jr., Bugwood.org
Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
George Kelley, University of Kentucky,
Bugwood.org
  • Small, dark-brown spots on new leaves causing leaves to turn bronze and die.
  • Dark brown streaks on stems.
  • Plant growth can be one-sided or stunted overall. Die-back of growing tips and dark streaking of the terminal stems is common.
  • Plant growth can be one-sided or stunted overall. Die-back of growing tips and dark streaking of the terminal stems is common.
  • Poor quality and reduced yield of fruit.

Causes

  • The virus is transmitted by thrips, a tiny 1/16-th inch winged insect.
  • Warm temperatures along with a high population of thrips.

Preventative Measures

  • Remove and destroy any symptomatic plants.
  • Practice crop rotation on a three-year cycle with non-hosts.
  • Use reflective mulches to discourage insects.
  • Remove crop debris, volunteer tomato plants, and weeds that can host the disease.

Treatments

Natural remedies

  • Inspect new transplants for TSWV symptoms and thrips infestations.
  • Destroy symptomatic plants as soon as they are detected. There is no cure once infected.

Chemical treatments

  • Insecticides registered for thrips control have shown good results.
  • Check with an government extension agent or other source for insecticides registered for thrips control. Some insecticides may damage certain plants
  • Several insecticide applications should be made at 5-day intervals to effectively reduce a thrips infestation.

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Credits for technical content

  1. College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences New Mexico State University
  2. T.A. Zitter and M.L. Daughtrey, Department of Plant Pathology, and J.P. Sanderson, Department of Entomology, Cornell University



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