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Tuta absoluta

Introduction
Tuta absoluta is a very harmful leaf mining moth with a strong preference for tomatoes. It also
occurs on eggplants, sweet peppers as well as potatoes and various other cultivated plants. It also occurs on weeds of Solanaceae family (Solanum nigrum, Datura spp.). Tuta absoluta can cause 50-100% yield reduction on tomato crops and its presence may also limit the export of the product to several destinations.

Biology
Tuta absoluta reproduces rapidly, with a life cycle ranging from 24-38 days, depending
on temperature. The minimum temperature for activity is 9°C. Its larval stage (caterpillars)
does not enter diapause as long as food is available. One female may deposit up to 250-260 eggs during her life which are deposited on aboveground plant parts. Eggs develop to a caterpillar, mining inside the leaf, stem or fruit but exit to pupate.

There are four larval instars. In between moulting, caterpillars can temporarily be found outside the leaf mines or fruit. Pupation may take place in the soil or on the surface of a leaf, in a curled leaf or in a mine. Overwintering can take place as egg, pupa or adult moth. Moths are active during night and hide between leaves during day.

Identification
Adult moths are grey-brown, approximately 6 mm in size and have a wing-span of 10 mm. Males are somewhat darker than females. Newly hatched caterpillars are small (0.5 mm) in size and yellowish. When maturing, caterpillars turn yellow-green and a black band develops behind the head. Fully-grown caterpillars measure approximately 9 mm with a pinkish color on their back. Pupae are light brown and approximately 6 mm.

Damage

  • Caterpillars prefer leaves and stems, but may also occur underneath the crown of the fruit and even inside the fruit itself. The caterpillars attack only green fruit.
  • Most distinctive symptoms are the blotch-shaped mines in the leaves. Inside these mines both the caterpillars and their dark frass can be found.
  • In case of serious infection, leaves die off completely.
  • Mining damage to the plant causes its malformation. Damage to fruit allows e.g. fungal diseases to enter, leading to rotting fruit before or after harvest.

 

      

 

Tuta absoluta originates from South America where it has been a serious threat to tomato
crops on a large area for several decades. It was first detected in Spain in 2007 and one year
later it also appeared in Morocco and Algeria. At the end of 2008 Southern France, Italy and
Tunisia reported the pest in tomato crops. The Dutch plant protection service has also detected the moth in some packing stations that process truss tomatoes imported from Spain.

Geographical distribution

Tuta absoluta originates from South America where it has been a serious threat to tomato
crops on a large area for several decades. It was first detected in Spain in 2007 and one year
later it also appeared in Morocco and Algeria. At the end of 2008 Southern France, Italy and
Tunisia reported the pest in tomato crops. The Dutch plant protection service has also detected the moth in some packing stations that process truss tomatoes imported from Spain.

 

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Products against Tuta absoluta

Macrolophus pygmaeus (formerly known as Macrolophus caliginosus)

Macrolophus pygmaeus (formerly known as Macrolophus caliginosus)

Nesidiocoris tenuis

species-specific pheromones

trap for species-specific pheromones

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