Tuta Absoluta

Tuta absoluta, Tomato Leaf Miner

Tuta absoluta is one of the most economically important pests of tomato and is posing a serious threat to the fruits production across the Mediterranean and African regions.

This pest is crossing borders rapidly and devastating tomato production substantially. Originating from South America, Tuta absoluta is finding the shores of the Mediterranean a perfect new home where it can breed between 10-12 generations in a year. The presence of Tuta absoluta has been reported in Italy, France, Malta, the United Kingdom, Greece, Switzerland, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Albania. Tuta absoluta has been an established pest of South America since the 1980’s.

Tuta absoluta has the ability to attack the tomato at all stages. That’s why Russell IPM have developed solutions to deal with this pest at various stages of infestation.

The Tomato leaf miner is a serious pest of tomato. This insect can also attack potato, aubergine, peppers and solanaceous weeds. It originated from South America and was recently detected in Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Larvae produce large galleries in leaves, burrow into stalks, apical buds and green and ripe fruits.

Tuta absoluta poses a serious threat to protected cultivation of tomato in the Mediterranean region. It is capable of reducing up to 80-100% of total crop yield. Russell IPM manufactures and supplies Tuta absoluta pheromone lure trap for monitoring, mass trapping and lure and kill solutions.


Adult Tuta absoluta moths are 5-7 mm long and have a typical wingspan of 8-10 mm. The adults have bead like antennae, silverfish-grey scale wings with characteristic black spots on the anterior wing. They are nocturnal and usually seek refuge between leaves during the day. The pest may overwinter as eggs, pupae or adults.

Adult females lay about a total of ~ 250 eggs during their lifetime. Eggs are small cylindrical, creamy white to yellow and ~0.35 mm long. Tuta absoluta will deposit its eggs on the underside of leaves or stems. Hatching takes place after 4-6 days.

The total life cycle is completed in 30–40 days. There up to 12 generations per year.

The larvae of Tuta are cream in colour with a characteristic dark head. There are four larval instars. The larval period lasts 10–15 days. Tuta absoluta has a high reproductive potential. Larvae will not go in to diapause stage if food is available.

Pupae are brown in colour. Pupation takes place within 10 days on the leaf surface, in mines or in soil.


Mass Trapping

Russell IPM recommends TUA-Optima and TUA-500 for mass trapping of Tuta absoluta particularly in protected tomato cultivation. The high capture rate observed with these pheromones helps to reduce Tuta population in greenhouses – particularly if insect exclusion nets and tight doors are also used. Mass trapping is a technique that involves placing a higher number of traps in the crop field in various strategic positions to remove a sufficiently high proportion of male insects from the pest population. It is widely used in conjunction with other control measures, as an integrated pest management programme to achieve an acceptable level of damage and to reduce the reliance on insecticide treatments. Mass trapping is a potential option for open field production. However, for practical reasons, application in protected agriculture has a higher chance of success.

Use the pheromone in conjunction with Ferolite, a self-contained, ready-to-use solar powered trap which incorporates a specific wavelength of light in addition to the Tuta pheromone lure.


Application Guidelines

The following notes are guidelines of general nature and meant to give the user a head start in implementing pheromone monitoring program. Local conditions and practices can vary and can lead to customization of the program.

Recent Literature

Chidege, M., Al-Zaidi, S., Hassan, N., Abisgold, J., Kaaya, E., & Mrogoro, S. (2016) First record of tomato leaf miner Tuta absoluta in Tanzania. Agriculture & Food Security 5:17

Insect pests have a devastating effect on food production. Such a phenomenon occurred in Ngabobo village, Ngarenanyuki, King’ori, in the Arumeru District of Tanzania, a key tomato production area, when boring Lepidoptera larvae were found on aerial parts of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plants between 2014 and 2015. Larvae created blotched leaf galleries and superficial mines on fruits. The pest was identified as Tuta absoluta (Meyrick 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) by the leaf and fruit damage symptoms inflicted, the adult morphology as well as using specific pheromone traps (TUA optima lure) against adult male Tuta absoluta.
This is the first record of tomato leaf miner Tuta absoluta (Meyrick 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Tanzania worth to report. This information will help to design sustainable management tactics against this notorious pest of tomato in the country and the neighbouring countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

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Hassan, N et al., (2015) Integrated Pest Management of the Tomato Leaf Miner, Tuta absoluta (Metric) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Tomato Fields in Egypt. Egyptian journal of pest control 25(3):655-661 · October, 2015.

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L) is universally one of the most important vegetable crops worldwide. In Egypt, the crop is cultivated annually in 2-3 plantations. The tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is one of the recent devastating pests attacking tomato crop in several countries. It is a new exotic pest in Egypt. A study to evaluate the efficacy of integrated control methods against the pest was carried out at Fayoum Governorate, Egypt in the tomato Nili plantation (September – December) of 2014. Based on the infestation reduction rate, release of the egg parasitoid, Trichogrammatoidea bactrae + mass trapping (plot B) showed best results, followed by the application with Biotrine and Fytomax + mass trapping (plot A) and lastly use of insecticides (control) (plot C): Respective seasonal rate of infestation was 9.2, 11.1 and 29.3%. Highest yield production and cost benefits were recorded in plot (B).

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