Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) success on common solanaceous species from California tomato production areas.
Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) is a devastating pest of tomato that has invaded many regions of the world. To date, it has not been detected in North America, but the pest reached Costa Rica in 2014 and seriously threatens the southern, southwestern, and western United States including California. Although the primary host of T. absoluta is tomato, several other species of Solanaceae may serve as alternative hosts. In our study, we aimed to assess the potential risk that other solanaceous crops and wild species that are often present in and around California tomato fields could serve as hosts. To accomplish this, we conducted greenhouse and laboratory studies to determine whether two common cultivars of fresh market tomato, two common cultivars of tomatillo, and the wild plants, Solanum nigrum L., Solanum sarrachoides (Sendtner), and Datura stramonium L., are suitable hosts for reproduction and development of the pest. According to our results, D. stramonium and tomatillo were unable to sustain T. absoluta larval development in either greenhouse studies or laboratory studies, and therefore, they are not likely to contribute to T. absoluta establishment during an invasion. On the contrary, the two other solanaceous weeds, S. nigrum and S. sarrachoides, share a similar potential as tomato to be reproductive and developmental hosts of T. absoluta, and might play an important role in the establishment of the pest in California.