The Drilling Moth, the Main Pest of Tomato

The Drilling Moth, the Main Pest of Tomato

One of the plants with which we usually begin our adventure of amateur horticulturists is precisely the tomato.

  • However, the cultivation of this plant and many other vegetables brings with it the risk of the appearance of numerous pests, including tomato moth. Discover what it is and how you can fight it.

The absolute truth

Although they call it the tomato moth, another of the names with which it is commonly known is precise with its scientific name, Tuta absoluta. It is a larva that pierces the leaves and fruits of the tomato causing serious damage to the crop.

Although this insect is native to South America, we can find it in the Mediterranean and Western Europe since the beginning of the century. As we have said, it attacks the tomato plant, but generally also other plants of the Solanaceae family. When identifying their presence, we can find mines or galleries in the leaves and fruits.

Also, the larva usually leaves the mark of its passage through its feces. The fruits that are affected are not suitable for consumption or sale, so the losses they cause for each affected plant are total.

How to prevent the invasion of tomato moth

This species of the caterpillar does not have a treatment much less simple, so if it has not yet appeared in your life, it is best to try to prevent its appearance.

To do this, we must properly take care of our plant and try to avoid water logging or drought, keep weeds at bay to prevent them from taking refuge and collect the fruits when they are ripe before they rot.

In addition to this, in case we see them through the plant, we must avoid that the moth goes very far so that it does not leave its eggs in different areas of the plant.

In case the larvae hatch, remember that they are the ones that make the destruction, so if we see eggs we must also remove them.

How to eliminate tomato moth pests

As you can imagine, although its treatment is very difficult, controlling the pests of the tomato moth is possible.

For this, we propose several treatments according to the phase of growth in which the insect is found.

In this way, for the caterpillars, we will use treatment and for the moths, a different one. These are our tips:

  • In case you have caterpillars, the best treatment available in the market is bacillus thuringiensis. It is a kind of granulate that dissolves in water before application and causes the caterpillar to stop feeding, so it eventually dies. We will use 1 gram per liter of water if we seek to prevent, and 2 grams if we want to eliminate the one that already exists.
  • On the other hand, the moth is best controlled with neem oil. You can apply it throughout the plant to prevent it from depositing its eggs and new caterpillars being born from them. As a preventive treatment, the ideal measure is about 1.5 ml per liter of water, applying it on the plant every two weeks, or every week if the pest is already installed in our tomato.
  • Finally, you can perform some actions that will make it easier to eliminate this pest. Start by removing affected leaves, stems and fruits to prohibit their spread. On the other hand, all the weeds or remains that we remove, should not go to the compost, but the ideal would be to burn them or throw them in the trash as soon as possible so that it stops reproducing near our orchard or plants.

Kate Mitchel

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