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Biological Control Strategies for the South American Tomato Moth (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in Greenhouse Tomatoes

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The South American tomato pinworm, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) has been introduced into new geographic areas, including the Mediterranean region, where it has become a serious threat to tomato production. Three greenhouse trials conducted in tomato crops during 2009 and 2010 explored control strategies using the egg-parasitoid Trichogramma achaeae Nagaraja and Nagarkatti compared with chemical control. The effectiveness of the predator Nesidiocoris tenuis (Reuter) was also tested. In greenhouses with early pest infestations (discrete generations), periodic inundative releases (eight releases at a rate of 50 adults/m2, twice a week) were necessary to achieve an adequate parasitism level (85.63 ± 5.70%) early in the growing season. However, only one inoculative release (100 adults/m2) was sufficient to achieve a comparatively high parasitism level (91.03 ± 12.58%) under conditions of high pest incidence and overlapping generations. Some intraguild competition was observed between T. achaeae and the predator, N. tenuis. This mirid species is commonly used in Mediterranean greenhouse tomato crops for the control of the sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius). Tomato cultivars were also observed to influence the activity of natural enemies, mainly N. tenuis (whose average numbers ranged between 0.17 ± 0.03 and 0.41 ± 0.05 nymphs per leaf depending on the cultivar). This may be because of differences in plant nutrients in different cultivars, which may affect the feeding of omnivorous insects. In contrast, cultivar effects on T. achaeae were less apparent or possibly nonexistent. Nevertheless, there was an indirect effect in as much as T. achaeae was favored in cultivars not liked by N. tenuis.

Keywords: Nesidiocoris tenuis; Trichogramma achaeae; Tuta absoluta; cultivar; release strategy

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1603/EC12221

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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  • Journal of Economic Entomology is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December. The journal publishes articles on the economic significance of insects and is divided into the following sections: apiculture & social insects; arthropods in relation to plant disease; forum; insecticide resistance and resistance management; ecotoxicology; biological and microbial control; ecology and behavior; sampling and biostatistics; household and structural insects; medical entomology; molecular entomology; veterinary entomology; forest entomology; horticultural entomology; field and forage crops, and small grains; stored-product; commodity treatment and quarantine entomology; and plant resistance. In addition to research papers, Journal of Economic Entomology publishes Letters to the Editor, interpretive articles in a Forum section, Short Communications, Rapid Communications, and Book Reviews.
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