Emerging Pest Alert

Update on spread of Tuta absoluta in Europe

Scientific Name: Tuta absoluta

Describer: Meyrick

Common Name: Tomato leafminer

Title: Update on spread of Tuta absoluta in Europe


Significance: Native to Central and South America, Tuta absoluta has been rapidly spreading across southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, causing extensive damage to tomato plants. Originally detected in Spain in 2006, the tomato leafminer has also been found in Algeria, France, Italy, Malta, Morocco, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (Anonymous, 2009f; Attard, 2009; EPPO, 2009b; FERA, 2009). Unofficial reports have also stated the pest is in Greece (Anonymous, 2009b), Libya (Anonymous, 2009c), Bahrain and Kuwait (Anonymous, 2009d), and Tunisia (Anonymous, 2009a). 

Infestation by T. absoluta has resulted in 50-100% losses in tomato. Yield and fruit quality are both significantly impacted by direct feeding of the leafminer as well as secondary pathogens entering host plants through wounds made by the pest. Larvae penetrate the fruit, leaves, or stems of host plants, creating conspicuous mines and galleries and also allowing for invasion by secondary pathogens which may lead to fruit rot. Tomato plants may be attacked at any developmental stage. Infestation by the tomato leafminer is easily detected on aerial buds, flowers, or new fruits. Chemical control is the main method of control for T. absoluta, but effective control is difficult to achieve because the larvae feed internally and develop resistance quickly. (EPPO, n.d.)

Hosts: The primary host of T. absoluta is tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), though it has recently been detected on bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris) in Sicilia, Italy (EPPO, 2009a). Tuta absoluta can also attack potato (S. tuberosum), pepino (S. muricatum) and other solanaceous plants such as: Datura stramonium, D. feroxLycium chilenseLycopersicon hirsutumNicotiana glaucaSolanum melongenaS. lyratumS. elaeagnifoliumS. puberulum, and S. nigrum (Anonymous, 2009e; EPPO, n.d.).


Anonymous. 2009a. Tunisia acts against Tuta absoluta. Tuta absoluta Information Network. Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.tutaabsoluta.com/agrinewsfull.php?news=10&lang=en

Anonymous. 2009b. Tuta absoluta in Greece. Tuta absoluta Information Network. Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.tutaabsoluta.com/agrinewsfull.php?news=16&lang=en

Anonymous. 2009c. Tuta absoluta in Libya. Tuta absoluta Information Network. Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.tutaabsoluta.com/agrinewsfull.php?news=17&lang=en

Anonymous. 2009d. Tuta absoluta in the gulf Region. Tuta absoluta Information Network. Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.tutaabsoluta.com/agrinews.php

Anonymous. 2009e. Tuta absoluta Pest Profile. Tuta absoluta Information Network. Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.tutaabsoluta.com/insectprofile.php?lang=en.   

Anonymous. 2009f. Officials warn of a new tomato pest. World Radio Switzerland. (30 July 2009). Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://worldradio.ch/wrs/news/wrsnews/officials-warn-of-a-new-tomato-pest.shtml?15210

Attard, E. 2009. ‘Tuta Absoluta’ destroying tomato crops. The Malta Independent Online (July 10, 2009). Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.independent.com.mt/news2.asp?artid=90829

EPPO. 2009a. Tuta absoluta found on Phaseolus vulgaris in Sicilia (IT) (No. 8). EPPO Reporting Service. 16 pp. 

EPPO. 2009b. Tuta absoluta reported from Abruzzo, Liguria and Umbria regions, Italy (No. 8). EPPO Reporting Service. 16 pp. 

EPPO. n.d. Data Sheets on Quarantine Pests: Tuta absoluta. European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO). 2 pp. 

FERA. 2009. Fera confirms the first outbreak in the UK of Tuta absoluta - the South American tomato moth. Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA). Last accessed July 31, 2009, http://www.fera.defra.gov.uk/showNews.cfm?id=402.