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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990715.0019715Tuta absoluta – Tomato Leafminer Moth – (Meyrick, 1917)

Sangmi Lee, MEM
Distribution: South America (1)

and Size:
Forewing length ranges 4.2-5.0mm (2)

Larva and
Host Plants:
Larvae have been recorded on Saccharum officinarum (Sugarcane) and various Solanaceae, including Lycopersicon esculentum (Tomato), Solanum melongena (Eggplant), and Solanum tuberosum (Potato) (1).

Fully grown larvae are about 7.5mm (2) with a pale cream body and a dark head. Later instars become "greenish to light pink in second and fourth instars" (2).
Field Marks:
Forewing is gray mottled with dark gray and yellowish-orange (2). Antennae are banded (black and white).
Similar Species:
  • Similar to Keiferia lycopersicella, Scrobipalpa atriplicella and other Scrobipalpa. K. lycopersicella males have hair-pencils on the hindwing, which are absent in T. absoluta(2). S. atriplicella has a larger, broader forewing relative to the slender forewing of T. absoluta (2).

    "T. absoluta can be differentiated most reliably by the male genital characters: the valve is digitate and the gnathos is ovate"(2).
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: Select/reselect View by Region on the related species page.)
  • (1) Natural History Museum: HOSTS- A Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants website
  • (2) Hayden, J. E., Lee, S., Passoa S.C., Young, J., Landry, J.-F., Nazari, V., Mally, R., Somma, L.A., and Ahlmark. K.M. 2013. Digital Identification of Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae. USDA-APHIS-PPQ website
  • (3) Key to separate native and quarantine significant species of Gelechiidae on Solanaceae in Florida and the Gulf Coast region. [pdf]
  • (4) Species Page at BOLD Barcoding Project - website.
Tuta absoluta
LG – Sangmi Lee, MEM

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