Biological invasion of European tomato crops by Tuta absoluta: ecology, geographic expansion and prospects for biological control
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The tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a devastating pest of tomato originating from South America. After its initial detection in eastern Spain in 2006, it rapidly invaded various other European countries and spread throughout the Mediterranean basin. If no control measures are taken, then the pest can cause up to 80–100% yield losses in tomato crops in recently invaded areas and may pose a threat to both greenhouse and open-field tomato production. The exceptional speed and extent of T. absoluta invasion have called for studies documenting its biology and ecology, while indicating an urgent need for efficient and sustainable management methods. The development of approaches to manage T. absoluta would be facilitated through a detailed revision of information on this pest in its area of origin. This review combines information on the invasion by T. absoluta, its ecology, and potential management strategies, including data that may help the implementation of efficient biological control programs. These programs, together with a variety of other management tactics, may allow efficient integrated pest management of T. absoluta in Europe and Mediterranean Basin countries.