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Datasheet

Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 October 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tuta absoluta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • tomato leafminer
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Tuta absoluta  (tomato leafminer); larval damage on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
TitleLarval damage
CaptionTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); larval damage on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
Copyright©Marja van der Straten/NVWA Plant Protection Service/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Tuta absoluta  (tomato leafminer); larval damage on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
Larval damageTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); larval damage on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).©Marja van der Straten/NVWA Plant Protection Service/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult at rest.
TitleAdult
CaptionTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult at rest.
Copyright©Marja van der Straten/NVWA Plant Protection Service/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult at rest.
AdultTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult at rest.©Marja van der Straten/NVWA Plant Protection Service/Bugwood - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult male. Museum set specimen. (Note scale)
TitleAdult
CaptionTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult male. Museum set specimen. (Note scale)
Copyright©Sangmi Lee/Hasbrouck Insect Collection, Arizona State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult male. Museum set specimen. (Note scale)
AdultTuta absoluta (tomato leafminer); adult male. Museum set specimen. (Note scale)©Sangmi Lee/Hasbrouck Insect Collection, Arizona State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Single egg of T. absoluta on a tomato leaf.
TitleEgg
CaptionSingle egg of T. absoluta on a tomato leaf.
Copyright©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Single egg of T. absoluta on a tomato leaf.
EggSingle egg of T. absoluta on a tomato leaf.©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Pupae of T. absoluta. 1. Male  2. Female
TitlePupae
CaptionPupae of T. absoluta. 1. Male 2. Female
Copyright©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Pupae of T. absoluta. 1. Male  2. Female
PupaePupae of T. absoluta. 1. Male 2. Female©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Pupa of T. absoluta close to emergence of adult moth.
TitlePupa
CaptionPupa of T. absoluta close to emergence of adult moth.
Copyright©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Pupa of T. absoluta close to emergence of adult moth.
PupaPupa of T. absoluta close to emergence of adult moth.©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Adult of Spilochalcis sp. (Hymeoptera, Chalcididae), a pupal parasite of T. absoluta, native to Brazil.
TitlePupal parasite
CaptionAdult of Spilochalcis sp. (Hymeoptera, Chalcididae), a pupal parasite of T. absoluta, native to Brazil.
Copyright©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes
Adult of Spilochalcis sp. (Hymeoptera, Chalcididae), a pupal parasite of T. absoluta, native to Brazil.
Pupal parasiteAdult of Spilochalcis sp. (Hymeoptera, Chalcididae), a pupal parasite of T. absoluta, native to Brazil.©M.A. Uchoa-Fernandes

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tuta absoluta (Meyrick)

Preferred Common Name

  • tomato leafminer

Other Scientific Names

  • Gnorimoschema absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) Clarke, 1962
  • Phthorimaea absoluta (Meyrick, 1917)
  • Scrobipalpula absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) Povolny, 1964
  • Scrobipalpuloides absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) Povolny, 1987

International Common Names

  • English: South American tomato moth
  • Spanish: cogollero del tomate; gusano minador del tomate; oruga minadora de hoja y tallo; perforador de las hojas del tomate; polilla del tomate; polilla perforadora
  • Portuguese: traça-do-tomateiro

EPPO code

  • GNORAB (Tuta absoluta)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Gelechiidae
  •                             Genus: Tuta
  •                                 Species: Tuta absoluta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Tuta absoluta was originally described as Phthorimaea absoluta (Meyrick 1917) from a single male which was collected in Huancayo, Peru. This specimen is deposited in the Natural History Museum, London, UK.

The arrangement of the genus of this species has been changed three times: Clarke (1962) changed the genus to Gnorimoschema Busck 1900. In 1967 Povolny, applying taxonomic characters based on genitalia, placed the species in the genus Scrobipalpula Povolny 1964. After revision of the Gnorimoschenini (Gelechiinae), the genus Scrobipalpuloides was erected to place absoluta (Povolny, 1987). Nowadays the correct name of the species is Tuta absoluta (Meyrick 1917) Povolny (1994).

Description

Top of page Egg

The eggs are elliptical, and their colour varies from oyster-white to bright yellow, darkening in the embryonic phase and becoming almost black near eclosion (Imenes et al., 1990).

Larva

The first-instar larvae are whitish soon after eclosion, becoming greenish or light pink in the second to fourth instars according to food (leaflet or ripe fruit, respectively). There are usually four instars (Imenes et al., 1990).

Pre-pupa

The pre-pupae are lighter than the feeding larvae (first to fourth instars) and develop a distinguishing pink colouration on the dorsal surface. They leave the mines and build silk cocoons on the leaflets or in the soil, according to habitat. When pupation occurs inside mines or fruit the pre-pupae do not build cocoons.

Pupa

Pupae are obtecta with greenish coloration at first, turning chestnut brown and dark brown near adult emergence (Imenes et al., 1990).

Adult

Adult moths are about 10 mm long, with silverish-grey scales, filiform antenae, alternating light or dark segments and recurved labial palps which are well developed (Imenes et al., 1990).

Distribution

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Although T. absoluta has been found in Japan attacking Solanum lyratum, it was a localized occurrence (Clarke, 1962). This moth is native to Peru and probably it is widespread in all countries in South America.

There are specimens of T. absoluta from Distrito Federal, Goias, Brazil in the collection of the Natural History Museum (London, UK).

T. absoluta has been confirmed as present in Kenya through surveillance surveys conducted by the NPPO-KEPHIS and the research organisations ICIPE and KARI (Preliminary Report, IPPC, 2014b). T. absoluta has also been detected in South Africa, near the border with Mozambique (Preliminary report, IPPC, 2016c), Mozambique (IPPC, 2017) and Botswana (Tebele, 2017).

Further information may be found on the Tuta absoluta Information Network (www.tutaabsoluta.com).

 

Distribution Table

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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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BahrainAbsent, unreliable recordCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BangladeshPresentHossain et al., 2016via PestLens newsletter.
Georgia (Republic of)PresentEPPO, 2016
IndiaRestricted distributionIntroduced2014Sridhar et al., 2014; EPPO, 2016
-KarnatakaPresentIntroduced2014Sridhar et al., 2014; ICAR, 2015
-MaharashtraPresentIntroduced2014ICAR, 2015; Shashank et al., 2015
-Tamil NaduPresentShanmugam et al., 2016
IranPresent2010Baniameri and Cheraghian, 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; Cheraghian and Emamzadeh, 2013; EPPO, 2014
IraqRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
IsraelPresentSeplyarsky et al., 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
JapanAbsent, unreliable recordClarke, 1962; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
JordanWidespreadAl-Jboory et al., 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
KuwaitPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
LebanonPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
NepalPresentIPPC, 2016a
QatarPresent, few occurrencesCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Saudi ArabiaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SyriaRestricted distributionIbrahim et al., 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
TurkeyRestricted distributionErler et al., 2010; Kiliç, 2010; Unlu, 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; Sahin et al., 2014; Bayram et al., 2015; Polat et al., 2015
United Arab EmiratesRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
YemenRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014

Africa

AlgeriaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; Elouissi and Berkani, 2015
BotswanaPresentTebele, 2017via PestLens newsletter.
EgyptPresentEl-Arnaouty and Kortam, 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
EthiopiaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
GhanaRestricted distributionIPPC, 2017
KenyaPresentIPPC, 2014b; EPPO, 2014
LibyaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
MayotteWidespreadEPPO, 2016
MoroccoWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
MozambiquePresentIPPC, 2017Present: in all parts of the area where host crop(s) are grown.
NigerRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
NigeriaPresentEPPO, 2016
SenegalPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; Pfeiffer et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SudanRestricted distribution2010Mohamed et al., 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
TanzaniaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2016
TunisiaWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
UgandaPresent2016Tumuhaise et al., 2016
ZambiaPresentIPPC, 2016b

Central America and Caribbean

Costa RicaWidespreadIPPC, 2014a; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2016; IPPC, 2017
Costa RicaWidespreadIPPC, 2014a; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2016; IPPC, 2017
PanamaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaWidespread1964Bahamondes and Mallea, 1969; Schotman, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BoliviaWidespreadMoore, 1983; Schotman, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BrazilWidespreadCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-BahiaPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-CearaPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-GoiasPresentNHM collection; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Mato GrossoPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-ParanaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-PernambucoPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Rio Grande do SulPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Santa CatarinaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentCoelho & Franþa, 1987; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
ChileWidespreadVargas, 1970; Schotman, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
ColombiaWidespreadGarcia, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
EcuadorPresentSchotman, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
ParaguayPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
PeruWidespreadRazuri and Vargas, 1975; Schotman, 1989; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
UruguayPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
VenezuelaWidespreadPovolny, 1984; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014

Europe

AlbaniaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
AustriaTransient: actionable, under eradicationCABI/EPPO, 2013; Gabl and Hausdorf, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BelarusPresentEPPO, 2016
BelgiumRestricted distributionEPPO, 2016
Bosnia-HercegovinaRestricted distribution2010Ðuric et al., 2012; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
BulgariaRestricted distributionHarizanova et al., 2009; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
CroatiaRestricted distributionCuljak et al., 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
CyprusWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Czech RepublicTransient: actionable, under eradicationCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
DenmarkAbsent, intercepted onlyCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
FranceRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-CorsicaPresent, few occurrencesCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-France (mainland)Restricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013
GermanyTransient: actionable, under eradicationCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
GreeceRestricted distributionRoditakis et al., 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-CreteRestricted distributionRoditakis et al., 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Greece (mainland)Restricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013
GuernseyPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
HungaryPresent, few occurrencesCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
ItalyWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Italy (mainland)WidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013
-SardiniaWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-SicilyPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
LithuaniaPresent, few occurrencesOstrauskas and Ivinskis, 2010; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
MaltaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
MontenegroPresentHrncic and Radonjic, 2011; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
NetherlandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; Huisman et al., 2013; EPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2016
PortugalRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Portugal (mainland)Restricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013
RomaniaPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013; Mitrea, 2013; EPPO, 2014
Russian FederationRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Southern RussiaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SerbiaRestricted distributionTosevski et al., 2011; CABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SloveniaRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
SpainWidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Balearic IslandsRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
-Spain (mainland)WidespreadCABI/EPPO, 2013
SwitzerlandRestricted distributionCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014
UKEradicatedCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; IPPC, 2015
-Channel IslandsPresentCABI/EPPO, 2013
-England and WalesEradicatedCABI/EPPO, 2013; EPPO, 2014; IPPC, 2015
UkraineTransient: actionable, under eradicationEPPO, 2014; EPPO, 2014

Risk of Introduction

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T. absoluta, if introduced, will probably colonize countries of similar weather conditions to that of South America, where it is a pest of tomato. There is evidence that this species can also attack potato.

Hosts/Species Affected

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T. absoluta feeds almost exclusively on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and there is also one report that it eats potato (Solanum tuberosum) (Galarza, 1984). There are references to other hosts in the family Solanaceae (Lycopersicon hirsutum, Solanum lyratum and Solanum sp.) (Clarke, 1962; Vargas, 1970; Coelho and França, 1987).

Other Solanaceae reported as hosts for T. absoluta, besides tomato, include the wild species Solanum nigrum, S. elaeagnifolium, Lycopersicon puberulum, Datura stramonium, D. ferox and Nicotiana glauca (Garcia and Espul, 1982).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Amaranthus viridis (slender amaranth)AmaranthaceaeOther
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Capsicum (peppers)SolanaceaeOther
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeMain
Chenopodium bonus-henricusChenopodiaceaeWild host
Chenopodium rubrumChenopodiaceaeWild host
Convolvulus arvensis (bindweed)ConvolvulaceaeWild host
Datura stramonium (jimsonweed)SolanaceaeWild host
Nicotiana glauca (tree tobacco)SolanaceaeWild host
Physalis angulata (cutleaf groundcherry)SolanaceaeOther
Sinapis arvensis (wild mustard)Unknown
Solanum dubiumSolanaceaeWild host
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum melongena (aubergine)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum muricatum (melon pear)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)SolanaceaeWild host
Solanum tuberosum (potato)SolanaceaeOther
Solanum woronowiiSolanaceaeOther
Sonchus oleraceus (common sowthistle)AsteraceaeWild host
Sorghum halepense (Johnson grass)PoaceaeOther
Spinacia oleracea (spinach)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Xanthium strumarium (common cocklebur)AsteraceaeOther

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Post-harvest, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

List of Symptoms/Signs

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Fruit

  • abnormal shape
  • frass visible
  • internal feeding
  • obvious exit hole
  • premature drop
  • reduced size

Growing point

  • dead heart
  • distortion
  • frass visible
  • internal feeding; boring
  • lesions

Inflorescence

  • external feeding
  • fall or shedding
  • frass visible
  • internal feeding

Leaves

  • abnormal forms
  • external feeding
  • frass visible
  • internal feeding
  • leaves rolled or folded
  • necrotic areas

Stems

  • dead heart
  • dieback
  • distortion
  • internal feeding
  • visible frass
  • wilt
  • witches broom

Whole plant

  • dead heart
  • distortion; rosetting
  • frass visible
  • internal feeding
  • plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

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The female of T. absoluta lays about 260 eggs during its life time. The peak of oviposition occurs in the first and second day after adult mating, when around 92% of the total eggs are laid. The female, 1 or 2 days after emergence, releases a potent sex pheromone that lures males to exhibit mating behaviour and copulation. The female average number of matings in the laboratory was about 10.4 (Imenes et al., 1990; Uchoa-Fernandes et al., 1995a).

The sex pheromone of T. absoluta has been isolated and identified. The main compounds are tetradecatrienyl acetate and tetradecadienyl acetate in the proportions of 91:9, respectively. The first component has been used for monitoring this pest in Brazil (Uchoa-Fernandes et al., 1995a; Attygalle et al., 1995, 1996).

Eclosion of eggs (at 26-30ºC and 60-75 % RH) occurs at about 5-7 days. The larvae under these conditions pass through four instars which are completed in around 20 days. After this period the larva eliminates all material of the gut and builds a cocoon for pupation.

T. absoluta has a differentiated behaviour of pupating when occurring in processing tomato or fresh market tomato plants. In the first it pupates on the soil (1-2 cm deep) and in the last the larvae builds a cocoon and pupates on the leaf surface or inside mines (Uchoa-Fernandes et al., 1995b).

Pupation lasts about 10-11 days for females and 11-13 days for males. Taking pupae of the same age, female emergence always occurs first. Under laboratory conditions, the adults will live for 30-40 days.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agathis fuscipennis Parasite Larvae Loni et al., 2011
Apanteles gelechiidivoris Parasite Larvae Chile
Bacillus thuringiensis Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Bracon Parasite Marchiori et al., 2004
Bracon lucileae Parasite Larvae
Copidosoma Parasite Eggs
Copidosoma koehleri Parasite Eggs
Diadegma Parasite Pupae
Dicladocerus Parasite Larvae
Dineulophus phthorimaeae Parasite Chile tomatoes
Earinus Parasite Marchiori et al., 2004
Elachertus inunctus Parasite Yarahmadi et al., 2016
Elachertus pulcher Parasite Yarahmadi et al., 2016
Granulosis virus Pathogen
Haltichella Parasite Pupae
Horismenus Parasite Larvae
Macrolophus pygmaeus Predator
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
Neochrysocharis formosa Parasite
Nesidiocoris tenuis Predator El-Arnaouty and Kortam, 2012
Parasierola nigrifemur Parasite Larvae
Spilochalcis Parasite Pupae
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite
Steinernema feltiae Parasite Larvae
Tetrastichus Parasite Larvae
Trichogramma exiguum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma nerudai Parasite Querino and Zucchi, 2003
Trichogramma pretiosum Parasite Eggs

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A 3-year survey in Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo, Brazil revealed eight different native parasitoids of T. absoluta (Uchoa-Fernandes and Campos, 1993). Spilochalcis sp. was the most abundant, frequent and widespread parasitoid. Trichogramma pretiosum was introduced from Colombia (Haji, 1997).

In other countries in South America, there are several records of natural enemies of this moth. Parasitoids: Trichogramma pretiosum, T. exiguum, Dineulophus phthorimaeae, Apanteles, Pristomerus, Cremastus, Copidosoma (Vargas, 1970; Pacora-R, 1978; Larrain, 1986; Navarro, 1988; Berti and Marcano, 1991). Predators: Chilocorus (Vasicek, 1983) and the entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae (Prada and Gutierrez, 1974; Jimenez et al., 1989).

Impact

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Following its introduction into Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, T. absoluta has already caused extensive economic damage. The impact of the pest includes severe yield loss reaching 100%, increasing tomato prices, bans on the trade of tomato including seedlings, an increase in synthetic insecticide applications, disruption of integrated management programmes of other tomato pests, and an increase in the cost of crop protection. In addition, the outbreak of this pest led to a significant augmentation of risks for growers, consumers and the environment associated with the blind use of chemicals (USDA-APHIS, 2012; Zappalà et al., 2012; Zlof and Suffert, 2012). Considering its high biotic potential, its ability to adapt to various climatic conditions and the speed with which it has colonized Europe and North Africa, the potential invasion of African and especially Asian tomato crops by T. absoluta will probably impact heavily on the livelihood of local tomato growers and tomato agribusinesses in these regions.  

Detection and Inspection

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T. absoluta is easily found on tomato plants because it prefers the apical buds, flowers or new fruits, where the black frass is visible. When there is a severe attack it colonizes the leaves on the other parts of the plant. Mines are evident on attacked leaves (Imenes et al., 1990).

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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T. absoluta is the ecological equivalent of Keiferia lycopersicella (tomato pinworm) of the same family that is a pest of tomato in the USA.

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control

Ploughing, manuring, irrigation, crop rotation, solarisation, and the elimination of symptomatic leaves and destruction of infested tomato plants have all been used to control this pest. The removal of alternative reservoir hosts such as nightshades is strongly recommended before and during the cropping cycle. In greenhouses, one of the management tactics used to reduce the initial level of populations is to keep infested greenhouses closed after harvest to prevent the migration of adults to open-field crops. Alternating host crops, mainly tomato and potato, with non-host cultures can ensure a long-term reduction in pest pressure.

Chemical Control

The most common method of controlling T. absoluta in South American countries is the application of insecticides, usually pyrethrin, carbaryl and deltamethrin. The impact of T. absoluta on tomato crops in Europe and North Africa led to the extensive use of insecticides by growers in these regions, especially in the first years after detection of the pest (Desneux et al., 2011; Abbes and Chermiti, 2012). For example, up to 15 insecticide applications specifically targeting T. absoluta were added in a growing season to tomato IPM schemes in Spain. This was also the case in Brazil, where the immediate consequence of the introduction of T. absoluta was a sudden increase in insecticide use in tomato fields, from 10-12 applications per cultivation cycle to more than 30 applications that required 4-6 weekly sprays (Guedes and Picanço, 2012; Tomé et al., 2012). A large number of insecticides are currently used against T. absoluta in invaded countries including spinosin, indoxacarb, abamectin, emamectin benzoate and cyromazin. In Tunisia, 29 new insecticides representing 18 active molecules were introduced between 2009 and 2011 for the management of T. absoluta (Abbes et al., 2012). Despite the long list of pesticides registered for the management of the pest, these insecticides are of low to moderate effectiveness due to the cryptic nature of the larvae and the high biotic potential of the insect. In addition, several cases of insecticide resistance have been reported including resistance to organophosphates, pyrethroids, abamectin, cartap, chlorantraniliprole, flubendiamide, permethrin and spinosad (Siqueira et al., 2000; Haddi et al., 2012; Roditakis et al., 2015).

Semiochemicals

The use of pheromone-based strategies is recognized as an important control technique for T. absoluta (Cocco et al., 2013; Megido et al., 2013). Enormous advances have been made in the field of semiochemicals to cope with T. absoluta, especially sex pheromones which are important male attractants (Desneux et al., 2010, and references therein). The reproduction biology of T. absoluta supports the potential use of male annihilation as an effective control method as reproduction in this pest has been considered as strictly amphimictic and males emerge earlier than females and the females mate several times (Garzia et al., 2012). Pheromone traps are considered as the first line of defence against this moth both in open fields and in greenhouses as they are used for monitoring and male annihilation purposes. Most of the IPM strategies developed or under development against T. absoluta utilize pheromones in combination with other control techniques, either for male annihilation using pheromone-baited traps, mating disruption based on atmospheric saturation of the synthetic pheromone to reduce mating chances, or lure and kill techniques using a combination of a low amount of the synthetic sex pheromone of T. absoluta and an insecticide to reduce the male population (Witzgall et al., 2010; Cocco et al., 2013).

Inherited sterility (sterile males)

Inherited sterility programmes which involve releasing irradiated sterile males was recently proposed as a possible method for control of this moth (Cagnotti et al., 2012). This technique is based on the assumption that amphimixis is the only method of reproduction for T. absoluta; however, parthenogenesis among wild and laboratory-reared strains of T. absoluta has recently been demonstrated. This phenomenon could have serious implications for the viability of IPM programmes using pheromone-based techniques.

Biological Control

Several biocontrol agents are used to control the tomato leafminer in open field and greenhouse tomato cultivation. The most common predators against T. absoluta are the mirid bugs Nesidiocoris tenuis and Macrolophus pygmaeus. These natural enemies are commercially available and widely used in North Africa and Europe.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)-based insecticide formulations have been used to control T. absoluta in its native and invaded regions. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of Bt in controlling T. absoluta. The first-instar larvae are the most susceptible target and, on this basis, various commercially available formulations have been recommended for use without side effects on beneficial arthropods (Mollá et al., 2011).

Entomopathogenic nematodes have been tested for the management of T. absoluta. Laboratory and field trials revealed high larval mortality (78.6-100%) and low pupal mortality (10%) when Steinernema feltiae was evaluated against the pest (Garcia-del-Pino et al., 2013). However, the efficiency of entomopathogenic fungi on T. absoluta has not been widely investigated. Several fungal species including Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana are reported to attack the eggs, larvae and adults of the pest. Studies have revealed up to 54% mortality of T. absoluta adults by M. anisopliae (Pires et al., 2009, 2010).

Host-Plant Resistance

Host-plant resistance was explored by developing tomato accessions with high zingiberene and/or acylsugar contents resulting on low ovipostion rates and larval feeding of T. absoluta (de Azevedo et al., 2003; Maluf et al., 2010).

 

References

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