Macrolophus and Nesidiocorus keep Tuta absoluta under control

Macrolophus caliginosus

Tomato growers in most of Europe face the problem posed by Tuta absoluta. Generally speaking, the further south, the greater the problem. Fortunately, in addition to water traps and pheromone traps, there are also two effective predatory bugs available to assist growers in keeping Tuta absoluta under control. Early release of the bugs is vital!

“The problems posed by Tuta absoluta in the north-west of Europe are severe but not yet dramatic.” That’s the view of Peter Maes, Koppert’s director of Marketing & Sales. In his opinion, the situation differs between one country and another. The severity of the infestations also varies between farms. “Growers everywhere are aware of the risks. However, the warmer months of June and July were particularly troublesome. Tuta absoluta reproduces at a faster rate at higher temperatures. If this is underestimated, the result could be major damage to the crop.”

Growers in the Mediterranean region suffer even more severely at the hands of this notorious leaf mining moth. It causes damage to the foliage by mining tunnels in the leaves. When there are more of them around, they also damage the fruit. According to Koppert Spain director Kris De Smet, growers were reasonably successful in limiting the damage over the past winter. “They have the idea that they can cope with Tuta absoluta. But if the coming winter is milder, the moth will reproduce in larger numbers, and the resulting damage could be much greater.”

As a Koppert area manager, Yassin Lahiani is responsible for the region of North Africa and the Middle East. “Up until 2009, biological crop protection in Morocco was still in the pioneering phase. The arrival of Tuta absoluta changed things dramatically. Growers were forced to switch almost overnight, as there were no chemical pesticides that could cope with Tuta absoluta. The majority of Moroccan growers now successfully use Nesidiocoris tenuis (Nesibug) to combat Tuta absoluta and whitefly. Moreover, a collaborative venture with various local government bodies in North Africa began in 2009, with the aim of devising strategies for combating Tuta absoluta.”

Koppert offers various solutions for Tuta absoluta. Besides pheromone traps (used to detect and capture Tuta) and spraying with Bt products, the predatory bugs Macrolophus caliginosus (in Northern Europe) and Nesidiocoris tenuis (in the Mediterranean region) make effective natural enemies. They need to be released in good time (i.e. preventively), as they need time to build up a population. By providing Ephestia eggs (Entofood) as supplementary food, the predatory bugs can also develop while the infestation level of Tuta absoluta is still low.

The success of Nesidiocoris is so clear that Koppert Spain started using it at Spanish plant nurseries this year.

This is a summary of the article that was publiced in the Biojournal of October 2010. Also receive our paper Biojournal? Please fill in our contact form.

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