Vita Halaly, an agronomist ND consultant, biologist at BioBee (Israel), talks about the harmfulness and spread of tomato miner moth (Tuta Absoluta).
Tuta Absoluta is a relatively new pest in our lands. Some people think that controlling it is not a problem, but based on the speed of its spread, it becomes clear that this is not the case. Tomato mines from South America came to Spain in 2006, and in 2009-2012 it has already spread throughout the Mediterranean: Europe, northern Africa, the Middle East. Its distribution rate is very high. Tut's Absolute is considered one of the most problematic pests to date.
There is an opinion that air currents help spread the pest. Short distances it flies on its own, but the greatest spread of tomato mining moth occurs with tar and vegetables. The larva that is in the fruit is transported from one place to another, which does not have this pest yet. In the new location of Tuta Absoluta can find a host plant, as it is able to develop not only on tomatoes, but also on other plants of the cattle family, albeit less intensely. The speed of development and a large number of generations over the season is what allows it to capture huge spaces.
In addition to direct damage to the fruits of tomatoes, Tuta Absoluta is harmful to foliage, reducing their photosynthesis area. The nutrition of plants and fruits is broken, which leads to a decrease in yield. Lacking or not proper pest control can lead to a loss of 100% of the crop.
Sometimes people can confuse the damage done by the Tuta Absoluta, with the mines of the fly-miner, which can lead to the wrong fight. The difference in leaf damage caused by tomato mining moth is the mine in the form of a specific "triangle", which is easy to distinguish from the thin mines of the larvae of miners of all major species that damage tomatoes. The mine, made by Tuta Absoluta, expands from the very beginning. A "triangle" is formed, which expands eventually into the outflow of leaf space in which the remains of the livelihoods (excrement) of the larvae are visible.
Tuta Absoluta butterfly is of beige-gray color, brownish, has no clear figures on the wings, it is possible to speak only about dark strips in the front part of them. The mustache has black and white stripes. The length of the butterfly is about 0.8-1 cm, not visible.
To effectively control the pest, it is desirable to know the factors that influence it, so to speak, you must know your enemy. On the tomato miner moth, as well as on other living organisms, factors of the environment act. The first factor that affects the life cycle of tomato moth is temperature. The evolution from egg to imago can be up to 80 days at 14 ° C and can be reduced to 24 days at 27 ° C. The high temperature allows a pest to give up to 9-10 generations per year, which contributes to its rapid spread and seizure of new territories. The egg stage lasts about 5 days. The larva that exits the egg passes 3 moans and 4 larval stages. After the fourth larval stage there is a pupal stage, which lasts about 10 days and is the last before the appearance of an adult.
The population of Tuta Absoluta is divided by approximately 50% to 50% by the number of males and females. There may be a few more females than males. Each female lays from 150 to 250 eggs, depending on the environment. The female usually lays 1-2 eggs per sheet. Larvae usually leave only half of the deferred eggs, that is, one female gives about 100 larvae, which further develop and harm. Already the first larval stage begins to damage, clinging to the tissue of the leaf, it begins to move inside it, leaving the parenchyma between the two layers of the epidermis. In addition to size, there are other small differences between different larval stages. The first larval stage is white, slightly greenish, the second and third stages are green with pinkish spots, and the fourth is much more pink. All larvae have a "necklace" - a black band around the head, the head is clearly pronounced. The larva has 3 front pairs and 5 pairs of legs. During molting, sometimes larvae leave the mine out. Most often, the larva of the second stage comes out to the outside and the fourth, which is preparing to become bulldozed. Larvae can also leave the leaf if the female has laid off 2 eggs per sheet. Then the sheet of plate is eaten very quickly and the larvae have to go out in search of a new sheet. Therefore, if we are going to use non-systemic pest control, then we can only hope for its effect on the larvae of the mines left.
The Absolute Tutus does not have a periodicity of harm, but it is not able to pass into the stage of a doll on a cucumber. If for quite a long time at the plant only the cucumber is grown and in its surroundings this pest is not preserved, then with the transition to the production of tomatoes, there will be no moths. However, if the pest lives in a greenhouse area and he will have the opportunity to get into it, he will do it. If the Tuta can hibernate or end its development on the host plant in the vicinity of the greenhouse, then the probability of its emergence in the future in the greenhouse remains very high.
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