Tecia solanivora (potato tuber moth)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- Risk of Introduction
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
Don't need the entire report?
Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.Generate report
PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Tecia solanivora (Povolný 1973)
Preferred Common Name
- potato tuber moth
Other Scientific Names
- Scrobipalpopsis solanivora Povolný 1973
International Common Names
- English: Guatemalan potato moth; Guatemalan potato tuber moth; potato moth
- Spanish: polilla de la papa; polilla guatemalteca
- French: teigne guatémaltèque de la pomme de terre
Local Common Names
- Colombia: polilla centroamericana; polilla gigante
- Costa Rica: palomilla de la papa
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Gelechiidae
- Genus: Tecia
- Species: Tecia solanivora
DescriptionTop of page Eggs
Ovoid in form, 0.53 x 0.41 mm, pearly white when freshly laid, turning yellow during incubation and dark brown when close to hatching.
Larvae are eruciform, with three pairs of true legs (thoracic) and five pairs of pseudolegs (four abdominal and one anal pair). After hatching, larvae measure 1.2-1.4 mm in length and are transparent white, with the head and prothoracic shield dark brown. Second-instar larvae are cream, with darker, coffee-coloured spots. Third-instar larvae are yellow-green; the spots along the body are more visible and the head and prothoracic shield are dark brown. Final stage larvae measure 12-15 x 2.5 mm and are purple on the dorsal side and green ventrally.
The pupa is fusiform, measures on average 8.52 x 2.95 mm (female) or 7.83 x 2.42 mm (male) and is a pale coffee colour at first, which later darkens. Pupation may occur on the ground, on the walls of storerooms, in sacking or within the tuber itself.
Adults are rather stout moths with lanceolate front wings and larger rear wings with many fringes. The female is bright brown, the first pair of wings having three marks and bright brown longitudinal lines. The male is dark brown, with two marks on the first pair of wings and scarcely visible longitudinal lines. The female is larger than the male, measuring approximately 13 x 3.4 mm, whereas the male measures 9.7 x 2.9 mm (Barroso, 1974; Torres, 1989; Sotelo, 1996).
DistributionTop of page The first reports of T. solanivora indicate that it originated in Guatemala (Povolny, 1973), where it is found in the western highlands from altitudes of 1830 to 3050 m. In 1970, it was accidentally introduced into Costa Rica in potatoes for consumption imported from Guatemala (Povolny, 1973). In 1982, the pest was already established in the main potato-producing zones of the country (Barroso, 1974). It is now established in almost all the central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama (PRECODEPA, 1988, 1989).
At the end of 1983, T. solanivora was introduced to Venezuela from Costa Rica via the state of Tachira (Torres, 1989). It is now present in Tachira, Merida, Trujillo (reported in 1986), and in Ara (reported in 1987) with the most affected areas lying above 2000 m. In 1985, T. solanivora arrived in Colombia from Venezuela via the Department Norte de Santander and spread rapidly within the country, due to the brisk trade in tubers for consumption between different parts of the country.
In 1997, T. solanivora was reported in Ecuador, in the province of Carchi (Gallegos et al, 1997) and later, in 1998, it was reported in the province of Cotapaxi to the south of Quito (INIAP/PNRT, 1997).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Canary Islands||Restricted distribution||1999||CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Mexico||Present||Cruz et al., 2011|
Central America and Caribbean
|Costa Rica||Present||1971||Povolny, 1973; Barroso, 1974; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|El Salvador||Present||PRECODEPA, 1988; PRECODEPA, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Guatemala||Present||Povolny, 1973; Leal, 1983; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Honduras||Present||PRECODEPA, 1988; PRECODEPA, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Nicaragua||Present||PRECODEPA, 1988; PRECODEPA, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Panama||Present||1973||Povolny, 1973; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Colombia||Widespread||1985||Botero et al., 1995; Palacios et al., 1998; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Ecuador||Widespread||1996||Gallegos and Suquillo, 1997; INIAP/PNRT, 1997; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Venezuela||Present||1983||Salas, 1992; Torres, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2001|
|Spain||Restricted distribution||CABI/EPPO, 2001|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The economic impact of T. solanivora in Colombia and its spread within Ecuador towards the south has given it important quarantine status in Peru. Since this pest was reported in Ecuador during 1997, the National Service for Agricultural Health (SENASA) and the International Potato Center (CIP) have implemented a detection programme in order to prevent the introduction and establishment of T. solanivora in Peru (SENASA, 1997).
The Pest Distribution and Risk Atlas for Africa (https://cipotato.org/riskatlasforafrica/; Kroschel et al., 2016) includes information on the risk of introduction and spread of T. solanivora in Africa.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest
SymptomsTop of page The larva of T. solanivora damages only potato tubers, and the damage is similar to that done by other species of potato tuber moth: it penetrates the tuber skin and enters. During its growth it makes galleries along which it leaves residues of food, frass and larval exuviae. Externally the tuber shows no signs of damage until the larva leaves the tuber to become a pupa, after which circular holes 2-3 mm in diameter can be observed.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Vegetative organs / internal feeding|
|Vegetative organs / internal rotting or discoloration|
Biology and EcologyTop of page T. solanivora can easily adapt to different climatic conditions, from subtropical zones in Central America at 1000 m to colder zones at 3500 m. The length of the different growth stages is mainly affected by the temperature. At temperatures of 16-29.5°C, the life cycle can last from 35-50 days, which represents about 7-10 generations per year (Barroso, 1974; Casados, 1984; Trillos, 1996). However, at temperatures of 12-15°C, the life cycle increases to 67-75 days, allowing some 4-5 generations in a year (Torres, 1989; Notz and Ross, 1993; Sotelo, 1996). Adults live on average for 22.5 days in ideal conditions and females lay approximately 290 eggs (Sotelo, 1996).
Larvae pierce the skin of tubers after hatching and build galleries, at first near the surface and then moving deeper into the tuber. Along the gallery the larva leaves food residues, excrement and larval exuviae which gives the gallery a dark colour. Afterwards, secondary rotting takes place which affects the commercial value of the potato (Hilje, 1994).
When larvae complete their development, they abandon the tuber, leaving a circular exit hole which is free of excrement. Adults are nocturnal or shade-loving, and make short flights, usually skimming the ground. They normally rest on the ground, either under leaves or between cracks, or among heaps of potatoes in storage. The moths are not easily visible, except when they gather in large numbers. In the field they can be found on the borders of crops, where they take refuge in foliage and among the leaves of weeds and bushes. At dusk, adults fly excitedly, copulate and lay their eggs in clusters on the tubers or on soil nearby, for about 13 days (Torres, 1989).
In the field, T. solanivora populations are dependent on tubers of cultivated plants, on the residues of harvested or abandoned crops, or on volunteers. In storage, the moth multiplies in tubers for consumption, in seed tubers and in damaged tubers kept for animal feed. Adult moths found in the field, or in the storehouse, may migrate from the field to the storehouse or vice-versa. Damage in the field begins when moths fly from refugia (sources of infestation) towards the potato crop and begin to attack from the edges. Damage in storerooms may result from poor selection of harvested tubers, or may occur due to a movement of adults towards potatoes in storage (PRECODEPA, 1988).
In the areas where potatoes are sown throughout the year, the moth population exhibits various peaks, which are usually related to the presence and size of the infestation sources, the stage of crop maturity, storage times and climatic conditions, such as the absence or presence of rain (Hernandez, 1997).
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page There have been little or no reports of host-specific natural enemies in the field, although natural enemies of the potato tuber moth, Phthorimaea operculella, have been assessed for use as biological control agents (see Biological Control). In Colombia, larvae of T. solanivora have been found affected with fungal entomopathogens of the genera Scytalidiun and Fusarium oxysporum (Sanchez and Cardenas, 1997).
ImpactTop of page In Central America, the country most affected by T. solanivora is Costa Rica. Losses due to the pest in 1972 affected some 20-40% of national production, which amounted to an economic loss of US$ 900,000 (Povolny, 1973). T. solanivora is now sufficiently important to warrant 12-24 applications of insecticides per year (Hilje, 1994).
The economic impact of the pest in countries of the Andean area is much more serious than in Central America, chiefly because the potato is an important family staple and production is intensive. In Colombia during 1994, for example, an average of 15% of potato production was affected in the departments of Antioquia, Boyaca and Cundinamarca, representing a loss of 276,323 Mt (Benavides, 1997). In 1996, losses attributed directly to T. solanivora represented 3.3% of total production in Antioquia, 4% in Cundinamarca and 20% in Boyaca. In addition, the scarcity of quality seed and the intensive use of insecticides significantly raised production costs (Arias et al., 1996; Benavides, 1997; Peñaloza, 1996). In 1998, the economic impact of the pest increased drastically, because of the severe drought that affected the Andean area of Colombia, and 14,000 hectares of potatoes were lost, solely due to damage from the pest (FEDEPAPA, 1998).
In Ecuador, T. solanivora is a serious pest in the province of Carchi, affecting up to 40% of production in the field and up to 100% of seed potatoes in storage. This has caused increased insecticide use to prevent damage from this pest (INIAP/PNRT, 1997).
Detection and InspectionTop of page Adults can be detected in the field or storerooms using sex pheromone traps or light traps. To detect larvae, it is necessary to cut open suspected tubers, or check them carefully in order to find signs of damage or exit holes made by larvae before pupating.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page T. solanivora can be differentiated from other potato pests by the typical dark spots along the larvae and the 2-3 dark spots along the front wings.
Prevention and ControlTop of page Introduction
Since 1973, researchers from the national potato programmes of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela and Colombia have collaborated with CIP in order to investigate efficient methods of control.
In the field, good management practices to control T. solanivora are deep planting, timely and high earthing-up or hilling, defoliation when the crop is mature, opportune harvesting, not leaving harvest residues and the use of healthy seed and crop rotations when infestations are severe. In storage, cleanliness and diffused lighting are recommended (Marroquin, 1981; Leal, 1983; Torres, 1994).
Covering tuber seed to a depth of 5-10 cm prevents female moths from ovipositing in seed tubers and keeps larvae from migrating to tubers from infested sprouts above ground. High hilling of growing plants protects the developing tubers from ovipositing females and reduces the possibility of larvae reaching the bulking tubers.
Adequate watering and cultivation prevent cracks from forming in the soil. These allow female moths to reach potato tubers for oviposition and provide shelter for adult moths.
Female moths become active in the evening and most eggs are laid at that time. Harvested tubers should therefore not remain exposed to ovipositing females overnight, and if they cannot be stored immediately, must at least be covered.
Copidosoma koehleri, an encyrtid polyembryonic parasitoid of Phthorimaea operculella, was also shown to parasitize T. solanivora in controlled conditions (Torres and Antolinez, 1995).
Tests with the virus Baculovirus phthorimaea, also a pathogen of P. operculella, have shown that it also affects T. solanivora larvae (Torres and Antolinez, 1993; Trillos, 1996). This granulosis virus now plays a key role in the management of potato tuber moth in storage. The methodology of mass multiplication of B. phthorimaea in larvae of T. solanivora, and its preparation in powder form, have been developed for the mass commercialization of a bioinsecticide (Trillos, 1996; Sotelo, 1997). The dust formulation is produced by selecting and grinding virus-infected larvae from damaged potato tubers and then mixing them with ordinary talc.
In Venezuela, the potential of the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema feltiae as a biocontrol agent has been studied (Fan and Maggiorani, 1995).
Host Plant Resistance
Colombian varieties of potato and interspecific genotypes were evaluated for resistance to damage by T. solanivora under laboratory conditions by Bejarano (1997).
Many chemical insecticides have been evaluated in order to control T. solanivora in the field and in storage: phosphates, carbamates and pyrethroids (Leal, 1983; Murillo, 1983; PRACIPA, 1989; Hilje and Cartin, 1990). Evaluation of insecticides in powdered form, for pest control during storage, have established that no insecticide controls the moth as a larva within the tuber; they merely protect the tubers from renewed infestation. Evaluations carried out in the field have shown that granular insecticides applied during seed production do not control the pest. Insecticides applied to the foliage apparently protect the plant, if applied at the beginning of tuberization, and if the application is carried out at the base of the stem (Torres, 1994). When infestations are severe, however, no chemical insecticide protects the tubers from damage caused by T. solanivora (FEDEPAPA, 1998).
The sex pheromone of T. solanivora was identified in 1981 as (E)-3 dodecenyl acetate with 2% of isomer Z by the Tropical Development and Research Institute, London, UK. Between 1982 and 1987 the Costa Rican Ministry of Agriculture and Stock (MAG) developed a series of tests to determine the efficiency of this pheromone, and its usefulness in the study and control of this pest. In 1989, the use of large numbers of traps (16 per hectare) was recommended as a way to reduce the use of insecticides and to determine action thresholds from weekly counts (Rodriguez and Lepiz, 1989). Similar recommendations were made in Colombia and in Venezuela (Araque, 1993). Research carried out during 1995-1997 in Boyaca, Colombia, proved that adequate use of pheromone traps (16 per hectare) from planting until harvest, in combination with good cultural practices, was more effective than traditional management and the use of insecticides (Palacios and Cisneros, 1997). Tubers can also be stored with pheromone traps to disrupt mating during storage.
The strategy which CIP is using in Colombia for the integrated management of T. solanivora is aimed at keeping pest numbers low, preventing damage, avoiding pest migration (from the field to the storehouse and vice-versa), and stopping the excessive use of chemical pesticides. This strategy involves 16 components of control, not all of which are used, depending on the specific population dynamics at that locality and the socioeconomic conditions of the farmers (Saenz, 1996; Palacios and Cisneros, 1997; Peña, 1997). During crop growth, good preparation of the soil, use of healthy seed, pheromone traps, frequent irrigation and high earthing up should be employed. During harvest, selection of healthy tubers, elimination of residues and covering tubers from female moths are important. In storage, diffused lighting is important as illumination results in greening of the tubers (with glycoalkaloid formation), which is unfavourable for the moth. In addition, the arrangement of tubers in diffused-light stores facilitates the periodic elimination of damaged tubers. Dusting seed tubers with a baculovirus (B. phthorimaea) preparation, pheromone traps and repellent plants, such as species of Eucalyptus and Minthostachys, Lantana camara and Schinus molle, can also be employed.
ReferencesTop of page
Araque CT, 1993. Integrated Management of Potato Tuber Moth. Bucaramanga, Colombia: ICA
Arias J, Jaramillo J, Arevalo E, Rocha N, Mu±oz L, 1996. Evaluation of incidence and severity of the damage caused by the giant potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora, in the Department of Antioquia. Information bulletin. Medellin, Colombia: ICA-CORPOICA
Barroso PV, 1974. Biological cycle of the Guatemalan potato tuber moth, Scrobipalpopsis solanivora (Povolny) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). The new serious pest of Solanum tuberosum. Thesis. San José, Costa Rica: University of Costa Rica
Bejarano TMV, N·stez LCE, Luque ZJE, 1997. Reaction of 10 varieties of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and 3 interspecific hybrids to attacks of Tecia solanivora Povolny, in storage. Agronomi^acute~a Colombiana, 14(2):138-143; 8 ref
Benavides M, 1997. Prevention and Integrated Management of the Guatemalan Potato Tuber Moth in the Department of Cundinamarca. Report of Convention ICA-FEDEPAPA, 1996
Botero M, Londo±o M, Trillos O, Arias J, Jaramillo J, 1995. Detection of the Potato Tuber Moth, Tecia solanivora, in the Department of Antioquia. Information Bulletin. Medellin, Colombia: ICA-CORPOICA
Casados Q, 1984. Study of the Biological Cycle of the Guatemalan Potato Tuber Moth, Scrobipalpopsis solanivora (Povolny), in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Thesis. San Carlos, Guatemela: University of San Carlos
Cruz Roblero EN, Castillo Vera A, Malo EA, 2011. First report of Tecia solanivora (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) attacking the potato Solanum tuberosum in Mexico. Florida Entomologist, 94(4):1055-1056. http://www.fcla.edu/FlaEnt/
Fan X, Maggiorani A, 1995. Use of entomopathogen nematodes as an alternative for the control of the potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora, in Venezuela. 8 Latinamerican Phytopathology Congress. 14 Venezuelan Mycology Congress. Merida, Venezuela: University of the Andes, Faculty of Forest Sciences
FEDEPAPA, 1998. Technical Reports, 1997-1998
Gallegos P, Suquillo J, 1997. Monitoring of the potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora, International workshop on Tecia solanivora, August 1997. Ibarra, Ecuador
INIAP/PNRT, 1997. Potato/Project FORTIPAPA, 1997. Annual Report. Quito, Ecuador: INIAP/PNRT:39-40
Kroschel, J., Mujica, N., Carhuapoma, P., Sporleder, M., 2016. Guatemalan potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora (Povolny 1973). In: Pest Distribution and Risk Atlas for Africa. Potential global and regional distribution and abundance of agricultural and horticultural pests and associated biocontrol agents under current and future climates . Lima, Peru: International Potato Center (CIP).416 p. https://cipotato.org/riskatlasforafrica/tecia-solanivora/
Leal H, 1983. Present condition of the potato tuber moth Scrobipalpopsis solanivora (Povolny) in Guatemala. Memorial of The International Seminar on Biology and Control of the potato tuber moth. Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico: PRECODEPA, 38-51
Marroquin J, 1981. The potato tuber moth in the Guatemalan highlands. Biological aspects and control measures. Technical Bulletin No. 14. Guatemala: ICTA
Murillo R, 1983. Summary of research on chemical control of the potato tuber moth, T. solanivora, in Costa Rica. Memorial of the International Seminar on biology and control of the potato tuber moth, PRECODEPA. May 30-June 1, 1983. Celaya, Guanaquato, Mexico, 18-37
Notz A, Ross F, 1993. Influence of temperature on the biology of Tecia solanivora (Lepidoptera Gelechiidae). Venezuelan Entomology Soc. V Latinamerican Congress and XIII Venezuelan Congress of Entomology. Caracas, Venezuela
Palacios M, Cisneros F, 1997. Integrated management for the potato tuber moth in pilot units in the Andean Region and the Dominican Republic. Annual Report 1995-1996. Lima, Peru: CIP:162-168
Palacios M, Sotelo G, Saenz E, 1998. The potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora (Povolny). In: International Workshop on Tecia solanivora, August 1997. Ibarra, Ecuador
Pe±a L, 1997. Integrated management of the potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora, in the Department of Nari±o. Annual Report 1997. Colombia: CORPOICA, 18-19
Pe±aloza J, 1996. State of the two main potato crop pests in the Department of Boyaca. In: Colombian Potatoes. Colombia: Communications and Associates Ltd., 244-245
PRECODEPA, 1988. Use of synthetic pheromones in integrated management of the potato tuber moth in Costa Rica. Memorial of the XII Annual Meeting on the evolution of the PRECODEPA Committee, March 7-10, 1998, Guatemala, 7-14
PRECODEPA, 1989. Memorials of the XIV annual evaluation and planification meeting of the Regional Cooperative Potato Program, 12-16 February, San José, Costa Rica
Rodriguez C, Lepiz C, 1989. Sample and decision making to use insecticides against the potato tuber moth. Ministry of Agriculture and Stock. Costa Rica: PRECODEPA
Saenz E, 1996. Integrated Pest Management (MIP): an option for the control of the potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora (Povolny), in Ventaquemada. In: Colombian Potatoes. Colombia: Communications and Associates Ltd., 246-249
Salas J, Alvarez C, Parra A, Mendoza O, 1992. Integrated Management of Insects. Potato Crop Pests in the State of Lara, Venezuela. Venezuela: PRACIPA-FONAIAP
Sanchez C, Cardenas A, 1997. Identification and evaluation of the pathogenicity of two isolated larval fungi from the Guatemalan potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora (Povolny). Thesis. Tunja, Boyaca: The Pedagogical and Technical University of Colombia
SENASA, 1997. National Program for Control of the Guatemalan potato tuber moth, Tecia solanivora. Santa Fe, Argentina: SENASA
Sotelo G, 1996. The Guatemalan potato moth, Tecia solanivora (Povolny) Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae. Course in Integrated Potato Pest Management. Paipa, Colombia, June 1996
Sotelo G, 1997. Technical Report "Use of Baculovirus phthorimaea to control Tecia solanivora". MIP project in the Andean zone. Santa Marta, Colombia: CIP-CORPOICA
Torres WF, 1989. Some aspects of the biology and behavior of the potato tuber moth, Scrobipalpopsis solanivora Povolny 1973 (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in the State of Tachira, Venezuela. MSc.Thesis. Maracay, Venezuela: Central University of Venezuela
Torres WF, 1994. The Potato Tuber Moth. Technical Bulletin. Maracay, Venezuela: FONAIAP
Torres WF, Antolinez M, 1993. Preliminary evaluation of the granulosis virus Baculovirus phthorimaea in larvae of the potato tuber moth Tecia solanivora. V Latinamerican Congress and XIII Venezuelan Entomology Congress, Caracas, Venezuela, 47-48
Torres WF, Antolinez M, 1995. Evaluation of the parasitoid Copidosoma Koehleri (Hym-Encyrtidae) in the potato tuber moth, Tecia solinivora (Lep. Gelechiidae). Memorials of XVII Meeting of the Latinamerican Potato Association (ALAP). Merida, Venezuela: ALAP
Trillos O, 1996. Technical Report. Integrated Pest Management Project in Colombia and Venezuela. Progress Report. La Molina, Peru: CIP
Distribution MapsTop of page
Unsupported Web Browser:
One or more of the features that are needed to show you the maps functionality are not available in the web browser that you are using.
Please consider upgrading your browser to the latest version or installing a new browser.
More information about modern web browsers can be found at http://browsehappy.com/