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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990715n – 19715   Phthorimaea absoluta (Meyrick, 1917)
             Tomato Leafminer

Sangmi Lee, MEM
Distribution: South America; not found in North America north of Mexico.
and Size:
Forewing length ranges 4.2-5.0mm

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).

Fully grown larvae are about 7.5mm with a pale cream body and a dark head. Later instars become "greenish to light pink in second and fourth instars".
Field Marks:
Forewing is gray mottled with dark gray and yellowish-orange . 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. S. atriplicella has a larger, broader forewing relative to the slender forewing of T. absoluta.

    "T. absoluta can be differentiated most reliably by the male genital characters: the valve is digitate and the gnathos is ovate".
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select 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.
  • (5) Corro Chang, P.E. & M.A. Metz, 2021. Classification of Tuta absoluta (Meyrick, 1917) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae: Gelechiinae: Gnorimoschemini) Based on Cladistic Analysis of Morphology. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 123(1): 41-54.
Phthorimaea absoluta
LG – Sangmi Lee, MEM

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