- Subfamily: Gelechiinae, Gnorimoschemini
- Wingspan: 10-14 mm
- Flight period: Gen - Dic
- Spread: Common
- Host plants: Solanaceae
The Tuta absoluta also called Tomato Leafminer or South American Tomato Moth is a moth of the Gelechiidae family native
to South America, with a wingspan of 11-15 mm.
In Europe it is present in Portugal, Spain, France, United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Austria, Lithuania and Greece. *
In Italy it is also present in Sicily. *
It is relatively easy to recognize thanks to the silver-gray background color, sometimes with golden shades and from the front wings speckled with black. the hind wings are strongly fringed brown. The head with long filiform antennae, formed by 5-6 antennomers, and long curved palps has the same background color as the front wings, as well as the thorax, the abdomen instead of it has a darker color. **
The Tuta absoluta is a very prolific moth and in a year there are about 10-12 generations, most of the time overlapping as the complete life cycle ends in 4 - 5 weeks.
The adults of Tuta absoluta are nocturnal animals that hide in the leaves during the day. An adult female lays eggs on the host plant, and a mature female can lay up to 260 eggs before completing her life cycle. The eggs have a cylindrical shape, a length of 0.35 mm and a color that varies from creamy white to yellow. The hatching lasts about 4-6 days. The larvae are cream-colored and black-headed. Larvae have four stages and do not diapause as long as a food source is available. ***
The larvae sometimes abandon the leaf mines and infest the petioles and fruits that are emptied by the larval activity. The consequences are varied from abnormal growth, to slowing of growth and withering of the plant. Heavy infestation can lead to the total loss of a crop.
The transformation into pupa takes place both on the ground and on the surface of the leaf and inside the galleries. The Tuta absoluta hibernates in all stages depending on the environmental conditions. The second to fourth stage larvae change from greenish to pink. The most serious weed phase lasts 10 - 15 days.
Main host plant is Lycopersicon lycopersicum (tomato), but also other solanaceae, such as Solanum melongena (eggplant), Capsicum annuum (pepper) and Petunia, also reported on Solanum tuberosum (potato), of which only the herbaceous part is infested. ****
* Lepidoptera mundi https://lepidoptera.eu/ - Fauna Europea https://fauna-eu.org/
** Bestimmungshilfe für die in Europa nachgewiesenen Schmetterlingsarten - http://lepiforum.de/
**** Provincia di Bolzano - Agricoltura e foreste - http://www.provincia.bz.it/