Neoleucinodes elegantalis

Tomato fruit borer


This pest is found in Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Honduras, Grenada, Guatemala, Jamaica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela. Its host plants are the Solanum species, which includes tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), aubergine (Solanum melongena), gilo (Solanum aethiopicum), and sweet pepper, among others.

Appearance and life cycle of the Tomato fruit borer.

The eggs are white and vary in number, with an average of three per fruit. They are deposited next to the calyx or on the sepals. The egg phase lasts five to six days. The fully developed caterpillars measure around 11 to 13 mm in length and are a uniform pinkish colour, with yellow colouration on the first thoracic segment. After hatching, they penetrate the fruit through its skin The hole made by this penetration is almost invisible and subsequently disappears After the larval stage (around 18 days), the caterpillar leaves the fruit and moves to the soil, where it pupates in the detritus around the plant, After around 17 days, the adult emerges. The adult moth is white, with a wingspan of around 25 mm. The wings are transparent; the forewings are a reddish colour while the hindwings have small brown markings. The lifespan of the adult is around 6 days, and in this phase, it can withstand lower temperatures (as low as 8.5ºC).

Damage and symptoms

The attack begins when the fertilized females lay their eggs around the bases of the fruits, just below the calyx of the flower. When the eggs hatch, the larvae immediately bore through the fruit, leaving an entry scar, which is the indication that the fruit has been attacked by the pest. The larvae remain inside the fruit, feeding, and as they approach the pupal stage, they push their way out of the fruit, leaving another scar that allows pathogenic microorganisms to enter the fruit. In Brazil, the tomato fruit borer causes losses of around 45% of the national production, and this figure can be as high as 100% in some regions.

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