How to prevent and control tuta absoluta from your tomato farm

Tuta absoluta

Tomatoes are one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world. In fact, they are the fourth most popular fruit in the United States. Anyone who grows tomatoes knows how challenging it can be to produce high-quality fruits throughout the season.

Numerous factors that influence tomato production include soil fertility, plant nutrition, irrigation, and disease control.

To maintain a high yield, it’s important to monitor potential problems and take action when necessary.

One of the most common and dangerous pests is Tuta absoluta. It thrives in humid or wet environments and will attack plants almost immediately after they emerge from the soil.

If you have a weak or unhealthy tomato plant, it’s nearly guaranteed that Tuta will infect it within 24 hours. Once this happens, there’s no going back – they will continue to spread until they completely destroy your entire farm (unless you take action!).

Unfortunately, this is a very common problem among most tomato farmers everywhere and many people don’t know what steps to take once it occurs.

Here we’ll go overboard and dig deeper into everything you need to know about the prevention and control of Tuta absoluta in tomato farming.

What is Tuta Absoluta?

It is a small yellowish-white sap-sucking moth that attacks and ruins tomato plants. It primarily targets the fruit, leaves, and stems of the plants but can also spread to other nearby plants as well.

It was first found in south America where it got its name from the Latin words for “unfinished” or “incomplete” because of what it does to the tomato plant.

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Tuta absoluta (also known as Tutaecus Newness) thrives in humid environments and attacks plants at their most vulnerable – when they are young and growing rapidly

During the growing season, female moths lay eggs on the leaves. The eggs hatch into small larvae that feed on the leaves and fruit of the plant. After feeding for a few weeks, the larvae drop to the ground and pupate into adult moths. The moths then fly back up to the plants and begin the process all over again.

How does Tuta Absoluta spread?

The primary method of spreading Tuta absoluta is through adult female moths. They are extremely good fliers and can travel up to 2 miles from plant to plant. During the growing season, the adult moths will lay eggs on the leaves.

The eggs will then hatch into small larvae that feed on the leaves and fruit of the plant. After feeding for a few weeks, the larvae will drop to the ground and pupate into adult moths.

The moths will then fly back up to the plants and begin the cycle all over again. Additionally, they can also spread through seeds. If a tomato plant is infected with Tuta, the larvae can enter the fruit and cause scarring. This scarring can then be transferred to the next growing season if a gardener decides to plant the infected tomato.

What are the signs of a Tuta infestation?

If you notice fruit drop, sticky leaves, or dark, web-like insects around your tomato plants, it’s a good indication that you have a Tuta infestation.

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These insects are called tomato fruitworms and they are the larvae of Tuta absoluta moths. Fruit drop is typically the first symptom that you’ll notice.

After moths lay eggs on tomato plants, the larvae will feed on the fruit and drop to the ground before they have had a chance to ripen. This is a common problem on commercial tomato farms because the bulk harvest occurs during a short period of time. When fruits begin to drop from the plants, the entire harvest is lost.

How to prevent Tuta Absoluta infestation

There are several measures that can be undertaken in dealing with these deadly tomato leaf miners.

First and the most important measure is to prevent them from infesting your plants, and the second one is to eliminate them before they start multiplying.

Below are the best recommended natural ways of preventing tuta absoluta from your tomato crops.

  • Use pheromone traps on your farm – pheromone traps are used to lure and trap male moths when they are active during the night. 6 to 8 traps can be used on one hectare of land.
  • Sterilization of the soil – This practice helps to kill and destroy eggs that might be in the soil.
  • Purchase quality seeds and seedlings – Always buy planting materials from reputable vendors who sell clean seeds that are sterilized.
  • Practice crop rotation and avoid planting one crop all season through
  • Be cautious when watering and feeding your plants
  • Completely remove all weeds and alien plants in the vicinity. Always maintain clean fields.
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How to control Tuta Absoluta infestation?

Controlling an existing infestation is tricky. This is primarily because these pests are highly mobile and can easily fly away. You may think you have killed all of the moths, but they could be sitting in your neighbor’s garden waiting for their next meal.

The best way to control a current infestation is by regularly inspecting your plants for signs of Tuta. Once you spot the larvae on the leaves, you can pick them off with your fingers and discard them.

If you see the larvae inside the fruit, it’s best to simply discard the entire plant. Another way to control an existing infestation is by utilizing pesticides. Insecticides are often effective against Tuta absoluta.

However, you must be careful when applying pesticides near your plants. Most pesticides should only be applied when the temperature is lower than 20 degrees. If you’re unsure about the best pesticide to use against these pests, contact your local Extension Service office or your nearest agro vet and they can help you make an informed decision.


Tuta absoluta is a very dangerous tomato pest that thrives in humid environments. If your tomato crops receive a lot of water, have poor soil drainage, or are located near other tomato plants, they will likely infect your plants.

The best way to prevent infestation is by maintaining healthy soil, not watering your plants too much, and planting tomato varieties that are known to resist Tuta.

If you do end up with an infestation, it’s best to simply discard the affected plants before the larvae have a chance to drop to the ground and create new moths. If you keep these tips in mind, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of an infestation and keep your plants healthy and productive!

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