Tuta Absoluta

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

Tuta absoluta or tomato leaf miner is a major pest of processed and fresh tomatoes, both in greenhouses and open field crops. It also occurs on eggplants, sweet peppers as well as potatoes and various other cultivated plants and weeds of Solanaceae family (Solanum nigrum, Datura spp.).  

This pest has spread rapidly since its introduction to Europe in 2006 and within just a few years its global status has changed completely, from a South American tomato pest into a major threat to world tomato production.

In tomato, it can attack any plant part at any crop stage and, if it's not managed at all, it can cause up to 100% crop destruction.

To protect your tomato from this devastating pest, all cultural, biological and chemical practices should be managed.

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.

Biological control

The most common predators against T. Absoluta, commercially available and widely used, are the mirid bugs Nesidiocoris tenuis, Pseudo Apanteles, Podisus, Macrolophus pygmaeus and bacteria Trichogramma and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which controls the first-instar larvae.

For control of leaf miners eggs, larvae and adults can also be used several fungal species including Metarhizium anisopliae and Beauveria bassiana and entomopathogenic nematodes Steinernema feltiae.

Some additional alternative control methods are used in T. Absoluta control, based on the use of insect’s sex pheromones, for moth pests population control. Sex pheromones are chemical signals released by an organism to attract an individual of the same species of the opposite sex for mating. It is usually suggested to use 1 trap/ha in greenhouses smaller than 2,500 m2 and 2–4 traps/ha in greenhouses wider than 2,500 m2, in open-field crops, 2–3 traps/ha are recommended. In order to determine the direction of the infestation, two more traps can be added along all four edges of the field.

Chemical control

Against T. absoluta are currently used large number of insecticides, including spinosin, indoxacarb, abamectin, emamectin benzoate and cyromazin. There is a long list of pesticides registered for the management of this pest, but 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 some countries pest shows a resistance to some insecticides -organophosphates, pyrethroids, abamectin, cartap, permethrin and spinosad. Because of this, local evaluation of the insecticidal efficacy is very important and should be considered as the first step in any local management program.

Following its introduction into Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, T. absoluta has already caused extensive economic damage. The impact of pest includes severe yield loss reaching 100%, increasing tomato prices, bans on the trade of tomato including seedlings, an increase in synthetic insecticide applications 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.

For complete and proper management of your farm production for Tuta absoluta and other pests control on various crops, you can use Agrivi farm management system. For pest control per crops, such as Tuta abslouta in tomato, the system gives you a list of all active substances (chemical and organic) with which you can treat that pest with allowed dosage. 

You can also track weather conditions per fields, thus preventing pest and disease occurrence.

The system allows you to track a whole production from one place and all resources like fertilizers, pesticides, fuel, mechanization, people and inventory.

Agrivi has a knowledge base with tasks description, what farmer should do, from soil tillage to harvest. Since preventive measures during the crop vegetation, like proper soil tillage, fertilization and irrigation significantly decrease occurrence of tomato leaf miners, use Agrivi to help you combat this pest.