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South American tomato moth

As its name indicates, the South American tomato moth Tuta absoluta originates in South America. However, you can also spot this pest in Africa, Asia and Europe since 2006. This species causes damage to plants of the nightshade family and is a real nightmare for tomato growers. In untreated tomato crops, Tuta absoluta causes economic problems with potential harvest losses of 50 up to 100 %. Fortunately, you can react now with biological control!

What damage can Tuta absoluta cause?

  • The young larvae pierce in the leaves and feed on mesophyll tissue causing bladder-shaped mines.
  • Larvae deposit excrements at the end of the mines. These mines turn brown and become necrotic after a while.
  • Larvae can also bore into young stems and fruit.
  • Dark, granular excrements can be spotted close to a borehole.
  • Affected fruits become unsuitable for sale or consumption

How to control Tuta absoluta?

To monitor Tuta absoluta, you can rely on Biobest’s Sticky Trap Black and pheromone traps.

For biological control of this species, you can introduce:  

To boost the population establishment of Macrolophus-System, you can use the feed supplement Nutrimac.

What are the characteristics of Tuta absoluta?

  • The eggs of 0.36 mm are cylindrical, cream-coloured to yellow and are deposited at the bottom of the leaves or on young stems and sepals of unripe fruit.
  • The larvae of the first stage are cream-coloured and 0.5 mm long. As they grow, the larvae turn yellowish-green and have a horizontal black stripe at the back of their heads.
  • Adults are mainly active at night and hide between the leaves during the day. They are micro-moths of about 6 to 7 mm long and grey-brown with dark spots on their anterior wings.

What about Tuta absoluta’s life cycle?

  • Females lay more than 200 eggs.
  • Aphids breed 10 to 12 generations a year.
  • After 3 to 5 days, the young larvae hatch and are ready to penetrate into the plant tissue.
  • It takes them about 10 weeks to develop from egg to adult at 15 °C/59 °F and 3 weeks at 25 °C/77 °F.
  • After they have passed the 4 larval stages, they pupate in the mines, on the leaf or in the soil. They pupate in a silk cocoon of about 8 mm.
  • T. absoluta can hibernate as an egg, pupa or adult. They don’t hibernate in countries with warm weather conditions.
  • Males live 6 to 7 days and females 10 to 15 days.

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