Ag office: Watch for spots
BY ALYSSA MEIER
With much of the state still in a drought, insects that thrive in dry conditions are making their way into local gardens, and bringing a deadly disease with them.
Tomato spotted wilt virus, a disease spread by insects, is growing rapidly this year, according to McLean County Extension Ag Agent Calla Edwards. Edwards said the disease is carried by tiny insects called thrips, which flourish in drought-affected areas like North Dakota.
“They thrive in really warm, dry conditions, kind of like what we’ve had this summer,” Edwards said.
Edwards said the thrips will feed on an infected plant, and then carry the virus to healthy plants and infecting them with TSWV. The disease affects both tomato and pepper plants, which then must be pulled out.
“Since it’s a virus, unfortunately there is nothing they can do once a plant gets infected,” Edwards said. “They just have to pull it out so it doesn’t infect the rest.”
Edwards said infected plants typically display wilted foliage, but that the biggest indicator of TSWV is the fruit itself.