Tuta Absoluta

Tuta Absoluta


Tuta absoluta is a highly destructive pest of great economic importance in a growing number of countries. The insects, which is also known as the tomato leaf miner moth is an invasive pest of tomato but is also reported in other plants. The problems associated with Tuta absoluta include its rapid reproductive potential of up to 12 generations per year and its ability to quickly develop resistance toward synthetic insecticides.

Biorational systems are a viable tool in the fight against the tomato leaf miner moth. With Tuta absoluta showing a growing resistance to insecticides , applications of biological solutions have been found more effective in Tuta absoluta control in comparison to the indiscriminate use of chemical insecticides.

New pheromone based solutions have been developed to combat Tuta absoluta. including pheromone lures TUA-500 and TUA-Optima and the long lasting lure TUA-100 N. Traps such as Ferolite, a solar powered light trap, and sticky roller traps TutaRoll and OptirollTuta+ can be used in conjunction with the pheromones for safe and effective monitoring and control.

Distribution of Tuta absoluta in Mediterranean region:

After devastating tomato production in South America for years, Tuta absoluta was introduced to Spain in 2006. Since then it has spread rapidly to the main tomato growing regions of the Mediterranean and other parts of Europe. Recent reports have now confirmed the presence of the pest in Tanzania, Nigeria, Zambia, Uganda and other parts of East Africa.


Tuta absoluta pheromone

The synthetic Tuta absoluta pheromone has been manufactured to mimic the natural sex pheromone released by females. The pheromone causes a specific behavioural reaction from males to attract them to the pheromone source for containment and control. Pheromone traps provide early warning of the infestation and will alert the user to low level of populations before they become serious. As the Tuta absoluta pheromone is highly attractive to male moths the pheromone based control systems can be used to control Tuta absoluta without the need for pesticide spraying.


Monitoring is the corner stone of any pest management programme. The use of pheromone traps is a reliable monitoring method to detect the presence of Tuta absoluta. Pheromone traps are a very sensitive, species specific and effective tool in providing early warning of any infestation.

Russell IPM offers TUA-500, TUA-Optima and TUA-100 N pheromone lures for monitoring. To optimise the pheromone lures for maximum trap catch Russell IPM conducted extensive studies to determine the most efficacious concentration. Results showed that a 0.8 mg pheromone dose was the most attractive to tomato leaf miner males and was name TUA-Optima.

TUA-Optima delivers the additional benefits of a constant release of pheromone for a longer period in hotter climates and a higher trap catch over the standard 0.5 mg lures available on the market.

    Key Advantages

    1. Higher catch rate to enable more effective mass trapping programs.

    2. Longer operating life span particularly in open fields at elevated temperature.

    3. Steady release rate to ensure consistency of performance throughout the operating life of the lure.

Tuta absoluta monitoring systems should be used in all areas involved in Tomato production, i.e. nurseries, farms, storage, packing, processing and distribution centres. Tuta absoluta appears to be continuing its spread to hotter climates therefore, TUA-Optima is the ideal choice for excellent lure performance under the most challenging field conditions.

Case Studies

Monitoring in Zaffaraya -Spain during the period 21st July -3rd November using the pheromone lure TUA-500 in open field conditions. TUA-500 continued to show strong performane for over 100 days.

Mass Trapping and Ferolite

Russell IPM offers Ferolite; a light based mass trapping solution.

Ferolite baited with TUA Optima pheromone lures is ideal for the mass trapping of Tuta absoluta particularly in greenhouses and in the open field. A successful mass trapping program requires the removal of both male and female insects from the population.

Ferolite is based on the synergy between the insect sex pheromone and a particular light frequency to which the insect is most attracted. Ferolite-TUA is a self-contained unit powered by solar energy. The solar-based unit will extend the reach of this technology to remote farms, which normally have no access to main power supply. It is pre-programmed to operate during the part of the night when the insect is most active. This feature makes it very specific in trapping Tuta absoluta to avoid attracting beneficial insects.

Application of Ferolite in conjunction with the TUA-Optima lure showed a huge improvement in the mass trapping of Tuta absoluta in tomato cultivations.

Trials showed that Ferolite is capable of doubling the capture rate of pheromone traps as it captures female insects as well as the male population. Ferolite has proved up to 200-300% more effective than the standard pheromone trap. The synergistic effect of light and pheromone increases the trap catch substantially. The trap performance reduced the background population by a significant amount and was able to reduce the overall number of traps needed to achieve a good level of control.

Attract and Kill

Insecticide based attract and kill uses a combination of a pheromone (or other attractant) and an insecticide to kill the target pest.

The insects responding to the pheromone attractant are lured into direct physical contact with the insecticide; this incapacitates and kills the insects. Whilst similar to mass trapping, this approach does not aim to capture the target pest. It may be more cost-effective than mass trapping by making the formulation more accessible and removing problems of trap shyness, as well as reducing the amount of trap servicing required. A key benefit of this approach is that insecticides are not applied to the plant but kept separate so that there are no chemical residues on the crops or produce and much smaller amounts of insecticides have to be used.

Attract and kill is found to be a very effective approach in controlling the male adults of Tuta absoluta with a minimum amount of pheromone and insecticide application. It will reduce mating opportunities and therefore reduce the number of viable eggs.  As it is based on a sustained release matrix, the system can release the pheromone over a long period while sustaining the activity of the contact insecticide throughout the same period. The attract and kill technique is normally employed in a single application during the season to provide safe yet constant control.

TutaRoll and OptirollTuta+

TutaRoll and Tuta+ are alternative biorational  solutions for the management of Tuta absoluta. The sticky rolls incorporate the Tuta pheromone into the adhesive layer.  Russell IPM offers two types of sticky rolls, one is the clear TutaRoll and the other is the yellow Tuta+ roll. The clear film trap is suitable for green houses where beneficial insects are being used as biological control.  

The yellow sticky roll Tuta+ is recommended for green houses where beneficial insects are not in use. The yellow colour of the roll will provide an additional advantage of capturing white fly and aphids within the same trap. It is a cost effective, single, pre-baited and ready-to-use solution for moth control. This roll can be used for mass trapping in green houses with tomato production to control Tuta absoluta and as part as integrated pest management programmes.

Optiroll Tuta+

Optiroll Tuta+ is a yellow sticky roll where Tuta absoluta pheromone is incorporated with glue and releases from the adhesive layer. Tutaroll+ is specially designed for greenhouses where beneficials are not in use as a biological control agent. It is one cost effective, pre-baited, ready to use trap. This roll can be used for the mass trapping and control of Tuta absoluta in green houses.


    1. Captures Tuta absoluta as well as white fly and aphids.

    2. Can be used for mass trapping as well as monitoring.

    3. A safe, simple and environmentally sound solution.

Recently Russell IPM has launched an effective and sustainable solution to combat the tomato leaf miner moth. The 3 component system is based on beneficial soil microbes has been found to work in unison to destroy the pest, boost the plant’s defences and promote plant growth in a sustainable way.

As the effects of T. absoluta continue to devastate farmers across East Africa, Russell IPM has conducted field trials in Arusha, Tanzania which found the 3-dimensional integrated pest management programmer significantly reduced crop damage.

Biorational solution for Tuta absoluta control

Russell IPM have successfully developed a programme for effective Tuta absoluta control that utilises various biological components including Recharge, Biotrine and Antario. Studies have demonstrated that the system can not only control Tuta absoluta and reduce damage to within economically acceptable levels, but it can also suppress the advance of the pest to other fields.

Tuta absoluta training day
Russell IPM has provided workshops and training days to educate local farmers in the best practices for Tuta absoluta control.


RECHARGERecharge contains natural beneficial microbes and plant stimulants to enhance soil health and restore its natural ability to regulate pest populations. The treatment works to stimulate the plants immune system to combat climatic and biotic challenges. Read more.

ANTARIO-NEWAntario is a novel synergised formulation of the biological product Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki can provide an ideal solution for early stage infestations. The solution integrates well with Recharge to provide an additional layer of protection. Read more. 


Biotrine is an advanced formulation of abamectin capable of penetrating the leaf structure and reaching Tuta absoluta within infested tomato leaves. It is fast acting and provides a short wait time before harvest. Read more.

Proven control of Tuta absoluta

Mr Meneno Chidege of the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI) coordinated the trials and found the 3 component system to be very effective for T. absoluta control. Application of the 3 biorational solutions was compared to conventional pesticide use. Leaf and fruit damage were recorded weekly in both open field and screen house farms, with less than 3% of damage observed when ReCharge, Antario and Biotrine were used. This was significantly less than the damage seen in control sites using conventional pesticides which suffered over 90% fruit and leaf damage.

The first step in the integrated solution is to apply ReCharge before transplantation of seedlings and repeat after 25-30 days. The beneficial microbes within ReCharge will kill overwintering pupae of T. absoluta before outbreaks of the 1st generation. The next step is to apply biological pesticides Antario and Biotrine to the foliage. Within these products the microbial extracts plus Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki will substantially suppress the Tuta population further.


Promising Results

Tuta absoluta, the tomato leaf miner, is a small moth that is causing big problems to agriculture and horticulture across the globe. The insects will mine the leaves and burrow into the fruits of tomato, potato, beans and aubergine making them unfit for consumption. In Tanzania, tomato harvests have dropped by up to 80% resulting in a 3-fold increase in the vegetables’ prices.

The microlepidopteron moth, which originated from South America, first arrived in Spain in 2006 and has since spread rapidly across the Mediterranean, North Africa and East Africa.  Without monitoring and careful management, Tuta damage to crop can cause up to 100% losses to yield overnight.   

Dr Julie Abisgold, programme coordinator for Russell IPM in Africa believes that these results are extremely promising and demonstrate that using the biorational products gives effective and affordable protection against this pest. All biorational products are now officially registered in Tanzania. Furthermore, to carry out detection and monitoring, Russell IPM has developed a Tuta-specific pheromone lure, called TUA-Optima, which is used in combination with a sticky trap.

Local Workshops

Together with Bytrade Tanzania Ltd, Russell IPM has conducted field demonstrations to show farmers how they can use the products and benefit from them. Interest in the products is now very high and Russell IPM continues to coordinate Farmers’ Days and workshops to increase awareness on this important pests and how the tomato leaf miner can be successfully controlled.

Considering all the possible applications of pheromone based products, Russell IPM can help you choose an alternative solution to pesticides to combat Tuta absoluta. Our solutions are safe, effective and environmentally friendly. Tuta absoluta is moving rapidly to the east to engulf all of the Mediterranean countries. It has the potential of inflicting serious and lasting damage to strategic crops for many countries and communities. Application of a bio-rational control strategy is the sustainable way to deal with Tuta absoluta.

The challenges ahead

Russell IPM is working hard to develop biorational solutions not only capable of controlling the pest but to prevent its expansion into other areas and limit its damage. By creating the right environment for natural microfauna and beneficial insects to flourish and provide the right backdrop for lasting control of Tuta absoluta.

Living with Tuta absoluta

التعايش مع حفار الطماطة توتا ابسلوتا

In The News

Tanzania - 6th September 2016 - First record of tomato leaf miner Tuta absoluta in Tanzania

Read the full article