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Tuta absoluta

Preferred Scientific Name: Tuta absoluta

Tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) is a species of moth. Approximately 1cm in length, Tuta absoluta was originally native to Peru but has become widespread across Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.

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Why is it a problem?

Tuta absoluta is a species of moth which is significantly reducing yields of tomato and vegetable crops. Some areas have reported a reduction of tomato by up to 100%. This has had a devastating impact on the economy of many of the countries that the moth has infested.

Impacts

  • Severe reduction in tomato crops 
  • Higher seed prices
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods

What’s the solution?

Quarantine

There are a variety of methods to tackle the invasive moth. By removing and quarantining infected plants, smallholders are able to protect the rest of their crops. However, early intervention is key if this method is to be effective. 

Chemical control

The use of insecticides is the most common method of controlling Tuta absoluta. However, they have been shown to have moderate to low effects regarding control of the moth at both larval and insect stage. Other methods such as inherited sterility and biological control are also being considered, as they do not require repeated investment and are a much more sustainable option. The most commonly used biocontrol agent is the mirid bug Nesidiocoris tenuis. These natural enemies are commercially sold and used widely across North Africa and Europe.

Resources

Visit the dedicated Tuta absoluta portal  on our Invasive Species Compendium

Stories related to this content

Elias Kamuga

Elias Kamuga

Kenya

Elias is a smallholder farmer from the Mount Kenya region, several hours north of Nairobi. He grows tomatoes which he sells at the local market and support his family. 

Fact file

Name Tuta absoluta

Distribution

Asia, Africa, Americas & Europe

For more information on distribution, view the full datasheet available here

Habitat

Agricultural areas 

Natural enemies

Wasps such as Trichogramma pretiosum are often referred to as a natural enemy of the moth across the Americas

Invasiveness

Can spread rapidly and have devastating effect on some crops

Likelihood of entry

Likely to invade countries with similar weather conditions to South America which grow tomatoes and potatoes

Climate

Tropical

Further reading

Visit our online resource of research and full text articles and journals
Invasive Species Compendium

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