Biological performance and oviposition preference of tomato pinworm Tuta absoluta when offered a range of solanaceous host plants.
The tomato pinworm Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechuidae) is native to South America and has now become the main tomato pest in Europe, Africa and Asia. The wide range of host plants attacked by this pest has been reported as one of the main reasons for the success of this important insect species. However, the information currently available on the biological performance of T. absoluta on Solanaceae has been obtained from a limited number of host species. The Solanaceae family is composed of thousands of species, many of which are potential hosts for T. absoluta. Our results showed that the highest oviposition rates occurred on cultivated tomato plants, potato and wild tomato. The lowest rates occurred on "gilo", "jurubeba", green pepper and pepper. The highest survival rates of the immature stages occurred on potato and the lowest on pepper, green pepper and "jurubeba". Female fertility, following infestation of the different plant species, was highest for insects that developed on tomato or potato and the lowest rates were seen on American black nightshade. The net reproductive rate and the intrinsic growth rate were highest on potato and tomato. Cluster analysis grouped tomato and potato as highly susceptible to attack, American black nightshade, juá, eggplant, gilo and wild tomato as moderately susceptible, whilst pepper, green pepper and jurubeba were categorized as resistant to T. absoluta. These results clearly demonstrate that the choice of solanaceous host plant species has a direct impact on the fitness parameters of the tomato pinworm as well as survival potential, dispersion and establishment at new sites. These results are important for the planning of integrated pest management strategies.