Current status of the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta in Greece E. Roditakis1, D. Papachristos2 and N. E. Roditakis1 1Laboratory of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Plant Protection Institute of Heraklio, National Agricultural Research Foundation, 71 003 Heraklio (Greece); e-mail: [email protected] 2Department of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Benaki Phytopathological Institute, 145 61 Kifissia, Athens (Greece)

The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick), was recorded in Crete (Greece) for the first time in June 2009. The species was subsequently identified in various geographically distant regions in Crete, Peloponnesus and Western Greece. Damage has been reported in tomato and aubergine greenhouse crops as well as in open field tomato crops. In two cases, infestations of the indigenous lepidopteran species Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) erroneously alarmed farmers and local agronomists, as symptoms caused by the two species on tomato leaves and fruits are identical macroscopically. In collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development and Food an official survey is under way to accurately define the extent of the T. absoluta distribution in the country, while constructing the basis for integrated management of the pest.

The tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a major pest of tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum, as well as other solanaceous crops (OEPP ⁄ EPPO, 2005). After hatching, young larvae produce large galleries in leaves, burrow into stalks, apical buds, and green and ripe fruits, causing considerable damage and yield loses (Moore, 1983; Oliveira et al., 2009; Silva et al., 1998). Tuta absoluta was added in 2004 to the EPPO A1 List of pests recommended for regulation (pests absent from the EPPO region) and transferred in 2009 to the A2 List (pests locally present in the EPPO region) because of its current spread in the EPPO region. So far, T. absoluta is not regulated as a quarantine pest by the EU. Originating from South America, the pest rapidly invaded many EPPO countries. It was first recorded in Spain in 2007 (EPPO Reporting Service 2008 ⁄ 001). Tuta absoluta has been reported in the following European countries: France (EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 003), Italy (EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 023), Malta (EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 188), Netherlands (EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 024) and the United Kingdom, (EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 152). Tuta absoluta has also been reported in North African countries Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia (EPPO RS 2008 ⁄ 135, EPPO RS 2008 ⁄ 174, EPPO RS 2009 ⁄ 042). Unconfirmed pest reports based mainly on personal communications indicate the possible presence of T. absoluta in Kuwait, Libya and Switzerland ( Tuta absoluta was reported for the first time to the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food in June 2009. It was collected from infested greenhouse tomatoes in the region of Platanos, in Chania prefecture in Crete (Fig. 1). The identification was made by the Plant Protection Institute of Heraklion, using morphological taxonomic characters of both larvae and adult (EPPO Gallery, 2009; Philipott, 1928; van der Straten, 2009). In Fig. 2, different views of the male genitalia of T. absoluta are displayed. Currently a national survey is under way to accurately define the extent of the establishment of T. absoluta in Greece. The

National Agricultural Research Foundation in collaboration with the Benaki Phytopathological Institute has investigated eight suspect cases of infestation on greenhouse and open field tomato and aubergine crops, and six were positively identified as T. absoluta. Cases have been detected in five geographically distant regions of Crete, Peloponnesus and Western Greece as shown in Fig. 1. Two cases have been reported in nearby locations in Crete, at Heraklion Prefecture (Antsiaksri and Pombia). The distribution of T. absoluta over the Greek territory is localised and scattered, suggesting multiple, distinct and simultaneous introductions rather than natural spread resulting from a single

Fig. 1 Areas where T. absoluta has been officially reported in Greece. Two cases have been detected in distinct but proximate locations in Heraklion (Antiskari and Pombia). Specimens were collected from infested plant material in all cases, except for samples from Patra and Preveza where specimens were collected from pheromone traps.

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E. Roditakis et al.




Fig. 2 Male genitalia of T. absoluta. (A) Lateral view; (B) dorsal view; (C) detail of distal harpe.

T. absoluta introduction. Currently the authors are unable to accurately identify the pathway that resulted in the aforementioned invasion pattern. Five suspicious infestations of tomato crops with typical mining symptoms have been investigated in Crete. In two cases, the cause of these infestations was the indigenous, closely related, species Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). The symptoms caused by the two species on tomato plants cannot be distinguished macroscopically. Symptoms on tomato leaves and fruits caused by P. operculella have been detected in the past (2005, E Roditakis unpublished data), mainly in organic greenhouses where intercropping of tomatoes and aubergines


occurred. In addition, mixed infestations of T. absoluta and P. operculella have been observed in one case in a tomato crop at Andiskari, and in an aubergine crop at Preveza. In the case of Pombia significant crop losses, up to 80%, were reported in open field tomatoes. In two cases, both T. absoluta and P. operculella were caught in traps baited with T. absoluta pheromone lure. The traps had been placed in the area of Patra and Preveza in tomato greenhouse and open field crops, respectively. It is not known whether P. operculella catches were accidental or if this species was attracted by the T. absoluta lure. Nevertheless, the above observations indicate that trapped moths should be thoroughly




Fig. 3 Discriminating T. absoluta and P. operculella adults using easily detectable macroscopic morphological characters. (A) Tuta absoluta was found to be smaller in size (5 mm) compared to P. operculella (7 mm in this case); (B) T. absoluta brown-grey-silver speckled wings; (C) P. operculella brown- speckled wings with 3 dark spots on each forewing; (D) segments of T. absoluta antenna are sharply bicoloured; (E) P. operculella antenna segments have a uniform brown-grey colouration.

ª 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation ª 2010 OEPP/EPPO, Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin 40, 163–166

Current status of Tuta absoluta in Greece

examined, even when specific pheromone traps are used for survey purposes. Specimens can be safely detached from the sticky part of the trap by using a drop of an appropriate solvent and a small scalpel (No. 15). By retaining collected specimens in the solvent for a period of 12 h, any remaining glue will be dissolved before proceeding with the male genitalia identification protocol. False positive identifications by non-specialists in insect taxonomy erroneously alarmed farmers and local agronomists and this could have resulted in unnecessary and repeated applications of chemical insecticides. A demonstration of easily identified macroscopic morphological characters of the two species is displayed in Figs 3 and 4. Tuta absoluta is a difficult pest to control because it is potentially very damaging and it has the ability to develop resistance to several insecticides (Lietti et al., 2005; Siqueira et al., 2000a,b). It is essential that National and European funding bodies urgently support studies on the pest biology, behaviour, genetic diversity, as well as on the biological and chemical control, in order to build the basic knowledge which will be nec-



essary to construct integrated pest management strategies that are environmentally safe.

Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank O Karsholt, The Natural History Museum of Denmark, for his assistance in species identification. They would also like to thank S Al-Zaidi, Russell IPM Ltd and W Stol, Pherobank, for providing T. absoluta pheromones and H Mpreta, Anthesis Ltd, for providing field specimens.

Situation actuelle de la mineuse de la tomate Tuta absoluta en Gre`ce La mineuse de la tomate, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick), a e´te´ signale´e en Cre`te (Gre`ce) pour la premie`re fois en juin 2009. L’espe`ce a ensuite e´te´ identifie´e dans diffe´rentes re´gions ge´ographiquement distantes en Cre`te, dans le Pe´loponne`se et l’ouest de la Gre`ce. Des de´gaˆts ont e´te´ signale´s dans des serres commerciales de tomate et d’aubergine ainsi que dans des cultures de tomate de plein champ. Dans deux cas, des infestations du le´pidopte`re indige`ne Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) ont alarme´ a` tort les agriculteurs et les agronomes locaux, car les symptoˆmes cause´s par les deux espe`ces sur feuilles et fruits de tomate sont identiques macroscopiquement. En collaboration avec le Ministe`re du De´veloppement rural et de l’Alimentation, une prospection officielle est en cours pour de´finir pre´cise´ment l’e´tendue de la distribution de T. absoluta dans le pays, tout en posant les bases d’une gestion inte´gre´e de ce ravageur.


Fig. 4 Discriminating T. absoluta and P. operculella larvae using easily detectable macroscopic morphological characters. (A) Tuta absoluta prothoracic shield is distinctly patterned; (B) P. operculella prothoracic shield and the first abdominal segment are uniformly brown coloured.

References EPPO Gallery (2009) Tuta absoluta (GNORAB). index.php/search/tuta [Accessed on 10 June 2009].

ª 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation ª 2010 OEPP/EPPO, Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin 40, 163–166


E. Roditakis et al.

Lietti MMM, Botto E & Alzogaray RA (2005) Insecticide resistance in Argentine populations of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Neotropical Entomology 34, 113–119. Moore JE (1983) Control of tomato leafminer (Scrobipalpula absoluta) in Bolivia. Tropical Pest Management 29, 231–238. OEPP ⁄ EPPO (2005) Data sheets on quarantine pests: Tuta absoluta. EPPO Bulletin 35, 434–435. Oliveira FA, da Silva DJH, Leite GLD, Jham GN & Picanc¸o MC (2009) Resistance of 57 greenhouse-grown accessions of Lycopersicon esculentum and three cultivars to Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Scientia Horticulturae 119, 182–187. Philipott A (1928) The male genitalia of the New Zealand Gelechiidae. Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 58, 348–356.

Silva CC, Jham GN, Picanco M & Leite GLD (1998) Comparison of leaf chemical composition and attack patterns of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in three tomato species. Agronomia Lusitana 46, 61–71. Siqueira HAA, Guedes RNC & Picanco MC (2000a) Cartap resistance and synergism in populations of Tuta absoluta (Lep., Gelechiidae). Journal of Applied Entomology 124, 233–238. Siqueira HAA, Guedes RNC & Picanc¸o MC (2000b) Insecticide resistance in populations of Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae). Agricultural and Forest Entomology 2, 147–153. van der Straten M (2009) Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae) Tomato Leafminer. National Reference Laboratory, Plant Protection Service (NL).

ª 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation ª 2010 OEPP/EPPO, Bulletin OEPP/EPPO Bulletin 40, 163–166

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Current status of the tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta in Greece. E. Roditakis1, D. Papachristos2 and N. E. Roditakis1. 1Laboratory of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Plant Protection Institute of Heraklio, National Agricultural Research Foundation,. 71 003 Heraklio (Greece); e-mail: [email protected] 2Department ...

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