Sustainable Management of the Invasive Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae): an Overview of Case Studies From Latin American Countries Participating in Plantwise
Published: May, 2022
Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is indigenous to South America. It has invaded several tomato-producing regions worldwide resulting from globalization of commerce and trade. T. absoluta is now considered one of the most devastating pests affecting tomato plants and fresh tomatoes. Although tomatoes are the primary host, T. absoluta can feed and develop on other solanaceous plants as well as plants from other botanical families, including 15 economically important crop species and weeds. Chemical control continues to be the primary management option, even in areas where T. absoluta is an invasive species. This occurs despite the well-documented effects of chemical insecticides on the environment and its low efficacy. In this article, we discuss the biology, ecology, and a more sustainable management for T. absoluta. The management plan includes periodic monitoring program to improve pest management strategies by detecting the presence or arrival of the pest in a given host plant, estimating population levels over time, and studying the distribution of the pest. Lastly, we discuss pest management from the perspective of Plantwise, an innovative global program which aims to contribute to increased food security, based on its implementation in Bolivia and Costa Rica. In both countries, plant clinics have been established to show farmers new ways of managing pests in a sustainable way while maintaining crop productivity. The implementation of the Plantwise program resulted in a reduction in pesticide use via incorporation of less toxic active ingredients and sustainable pest management strategies such as biological control. Plantwise has encouraged the use of cultural end ethological practices by smallholder farmers in participating countries.