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Tuta absoluta

EPPO code



Gnorimoschema absoluta

Common names

English names: Tomato borer moth, Tomato leaf miner
Nordic names: Tomatmøl (DK), Tomatmøll (NO)

Major host plants

The main host of T. absoluta is tomato, but potato is also reported as a host as well as several wild Solanum, Datura and Lycopersicum species.


Tomato plants can be attacked at any developmental stage, from seedlings to mature plants. The moth prefers apical buds, flowers or new fruits. The young larvae penetrate into tomato fruits, leaves or stems and develop conspicuous mines and galleries with black frass. Leaf mines are irregular and may later become necrotic. The galleries in the stems alter the general development of the plants. The galleries can be invaded by secondary pathogens leading to fruit rot. On potato, only aerial parts are attacked, and T. absoluta does not develop on tubers.

Courtesy of EPPO - JM Cobos Suarez, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino, Madrid (ES)

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Tuta absoluta originates in South America, and has spread to Northern Africa and the Mediterranean region. In 2006, Tuta absoluta was found for the first time in Spain and in 2007, the pest was detected in several places along the Mediterranean coast.

A map can be downloaded from EPPO´s website. See instructions here.


Adult females lay eggs on host plants and a single female can lay up to 260 eggs during its lifetime. The biological cycle is completed in 29–38 days depending on environmental conditions. Eggs hatch 4-6 days after egg lying. The larval period is the most damaging period and is completed within 12-15 days. Duration of pupa stage is 9-11 days and may take place in the soil, on the leaf surface or within mines, depending on environmental conditions. When T. absoluta does not pupate in the soil, a cocoon is usually built. The pest may overwinter as eggs, pupae or adults.

Major pathway(s)

Import of infested tomatoes and other green vegetables from infested regions.

Detection and inspection

T. absoluta is easily detected because it leaves conspicuous mines and galleries and black frass. Adults of T. absoluta are nocturnal and hide between leaves during the day time. They can be monitored with feromone and light traps. Egg: Small, cylindrical, creamy white to yellow. Eggs are mainly deposited on the underside of leaves.

Larva: Cream in colour with a dark head. They become greenish to light pink in second to fourth instars depending on food.

Pupa: Brown.

Adult: The most important identifying characters are the filiform antennae (bead like antennae), silver-grey scales and black spots present on anterior wings. The moth is relatively small: 5-7 mm long and with a wingspan of 8-10 mm.

Pest status and importance

T. absoluta is considered a key pest of tomato both in the field and under protected glasshouse conditions. Both yield and fruit quality can be significantly reduced by the direct feeding of the pest and the secondary pathogens which may then enter through the wounds made by the pest. Severely attacked tomato fruits lose their commercial value. 50–100% losses have been reported on tomato.

Source of information

See further information here:

Author: Jorma Rautapää
Editor: Dorthe Vestergaard