Control of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in greenhouse tomato crops using the mating disruption technique


Arturo Cocco, Dipartimento di Agraria, Università di Sassari, via De Nicola 1, 07100 Sassari, Italy. E-mail:


The effectiveness of mating disruption to control the tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), in greenhouse tomato crops was evaluated in four trials carried out in winter–spring and summer–winter growing seasons in Southwestern Sardinia (Italy). Pheromone dispensers loaded with 60 mg of the natural blend of the major and minor sex pheromone component (rate 90 : 10) were applied in disrupted greenhouses at a rate of 1000/ha (60 g of active ingredient/ha). Male captures in monitoring pheromone traps, percentage of tomato plants infested by T. absoluta and damage on leaves and fruits were monitored weekly and compared in disrupted and untreated (control) greenhouses. In greenhouses disrupted with 1000 dispensers/ha, a reduction of 93–97% in male trap captures was observed, compared with control. Leaf damage was significantly lower in greenhouses disrupted with 1000 dispensers/ha than in control ones, with a reduction of infestation throughout the growing season ranging from 57% to 85%. Pheromone dispensers applied at the density of 1000/ha significantly reduced the percentage of damaged fruits by 62–89%. In control greenhouses, the highest damage on leaves and fruits was generally observed in edge plants, while leaf and fruit infestation was uniformly distributed in pheromone-treated greenhouses, indicating an even distribution of the pheromone cloud inside the greenhouse. Mating disruption showed to be an efficient strategy to control in greenhouse the tomato leafminer and can be included in the overall tomato integrated pest management programs.