Natural enemies of Tuta absoluta in the Mediterranean basin, Europe and South America.
The tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) represents a global threat to commercial tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production, both in open field and greenhouse. Native to South America, it spread over the Mediterranean Basin, Europe, Africa and part of Asia in only 12 years, and currently it is reported in over 80 countries. Biological control is one of the options for its control and a large number of natural enemies has been reported in association with the pest, both in the areas of origin and of introduction. The egg parasitoid Trichogramma pretiosum, in South America, and the mirid predators Macrolophus pygmaeus and Nesidiocoris tenuis, in Europe and the Mediterranean basin, are used as commercial biocontrol agents. Even if several natural enemies might be promising candidates for biocontrol, their potential role in quantitative pest reduction has been seldom established under practical tomato production conditions. Since climatic suitability indices predict a high probability for continued invasion by T. absoluta, mainly in China and the USA, there is an urgent need for new control options. In order to minimise the use of broad spectrum insecticides, biocontrol techniques should be considered. As tomato is produced seasonally, augmentative biocontrol seems to be the most effective control option, but pest reduction might be optimised by adding conservation biocontrol, and by combining biocontrol within IPM programmes. Here, an overview of predators and parasitoids of T. absoluta in South American and Euro-Mediterranean regions, and their biological control efficacy under laboratory, semi-field and field conditions is provided.