Emerging Pest Alert

Tuta absoluta (Tomato leaf miner): New host records, controls, and distribution

Scientific Name: Tuta absoluta

Describer: Meyrick

Common Name: Tomato leaf miner

Title: Tuta absoluta (Tomato leaf miner): New host records, controls, and distribution


Significance: Tuta absoluta has been highlighted in previous NAPPO-PAS Pest Alerts (http://www.pestalert.org/viewNewsAlert.cfm?naid=78&keyword=tuta%20absolutahttp://www.pestalert.org/viewNewsAlert.cfm?naid=57&keyword=tuta%20absoluta). It is a significant pest of Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) and other economically important solanaceous plants, such as Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Capsicum annuum (pepper), and has also been found on Phaseolus vulgaris (bean).

Issues of Concern: A recent publication reports that, during a 2009 to 2011 survey, Tuta absoluta was found infesting Beta vulgaris (beet), Chenopodium bonus-henricus (good King Henry), C. rubrum (red goosefoot), and Spinacia oleracea (spinach) plants in Algeria (Drouai et al., 2016). This is the first report of these plant species as hosts of T. absoluta.

Control of Tuta absoluta is mainly through chemical means, but the larvae feed internally and quickly can develop resistance. During a 2010 to 2014 study in Italy and Greece, Tuta absoluta exhibited resistance to the diamide insecticides chlorantraniliprole and flubendiamide, which is the first report of T. absoluta resistance to this type of insecticide. High resistance levels (>1,000-fold) were detected in Italy, and low but increasing resistance levels (>10-fold) were detected in Greece (Roditakis et al., 2015). Some biological controls are available, such as the mirid bugs Nesidiocoris tenuis and Macrolophus pygmaeus (De Backer et al., 2014), and another publication reported that the assassin bug Zelus obscuridorsis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) was observed on tomato plants infested with T. absoluta in household gardens in Argentina during 2012 surveys. Laboratory tests indicated that Z. obscuridorsis feeds on mobile larvae and adults of T. absoluta, but not on larvae within leaf mines, eggs, or pupae, which is the first report of a Zelus species feeding on T. absoluta (Speranza et al., 2015).

Distribution: Tuta absoluta is native to South America and has been widely reported from parts of Central America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East (CABI, 2016). Most recently, T. absoluta has been collected from pheromone traps in Zambia (IPPC, 2016a), South Africa (IPPC, 2016b) and Mozambique (IPPC, 2017), and there has been first reports from Nigeria (Aishat, 2016), Uganda (Tumuhaise et al., 2016), India (ICAR, 2015), Nepal (Bajracharya et al., 2016), Bangladesh (Hossain et al., 2016), and Botswana (Tebele, 2017). It is not known to occur in the United States, Canada, or Mexico.


Aishat, O. 2016. Brief on tomato fruits scarcity in Nigeria. Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Nigeria). May 25, 2016

Bajracharya, A. S. R., R. P. Mainali, B. Bhat, S. Bista, P. R. Shashank, and N. M. Meshram. 2016. The first record of South American tomato leaf miner, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Nepal. Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 4(4):1359-1363.

CABI, 2016. Tuta absoluta. In: Invasive Species Compendium. Wallingford, UK: CAB International. www.cabi.org/isc.

De Backer, L., Megido, R. C., Haubruge, É., and Verheggen, F. J. 2014. Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur) as an efficient predator of the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) in Europe. A review/Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur), prédateur efficace de la mineuse de la tomate Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) en Europe (synthèse bibliographique). Biotechnologie, Agronomie, Société et Environnement, 18(4): 536.

Drouai, H., F. Mimeche, A. Zedam, H. Mimeche, M. Belhamra, and M. Biche. 2016. New floristic records of Tuta absoluta Meyrick 1917, in Zibans’s Oasis (Biskra Algeria). Journal of Entomology and Zoology Studies 4(6):130-132.

Hossain, M. S., M. Y. Mian, and R. Muniappan. 2016. The first record of Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Bangladesh. Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology 32(1):101-105.

ICAR. 2015. Tuta absoluta: A new invasive pest alert. Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). February 17, 2015.

IPPC. 2016a. Reporting pest presence: Preliminary surveillance reports on Tuta absoluta in Zambia. International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). September 14, 2016.

IPPC. 2016b. First detection of Tuta absoluta in South Africa. International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). September 1, 2016.

IPPC. 2017. Occurrence of tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) in Mozambique. International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). January 13, 2017. Last accessed January 26, 2017, from https://www.ippc.int/en/countries/mozambique/pestreports/2017/01/occurrence-of-tomato-leaf-miner-tuta-absoluta-in-mozambique/.

Roditakis, E., E. Vasakis, M. Grispou, M. Stavrakaki, R. Nauen, M. Gravouil, and A. Bassi. 2015. First report of Tuta absoluta resistance to diamide insecticides. Journal of Pest Science 88(1):9-16.

Speranza S., M. C. Melo, M. G. Luna, and E. G. Virla. 2014. First record of Zelus obscuridorsis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) as a predator of the South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Florida Entomologist 97(1):295-297.

Tebele, M. 2017. SADC tomato production under threat. The Southern Times. January 23, 2017. Last accessed January 26, 2017, from https://southernafrican.news/2017/01/23/sadc-tomato-production-under-threat/.

Tumuhaise, V., F. M. Khamis, A. Agona, G. Sseruwu, and S. A. Mohamed. 2016. First record of Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Uganda. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science 36(3):135-139.