A re-examination of Tuta absoluta parasitoids in South America for optimized biological control

  • Nadia G. Salas Gervassio
  • Daniel Aquino
  • Consuelo Vallina
  • Antonio Biondi
  • María G. LunaEmail author
Original Paper


We conducted a review of published information on Tuta absoluta parasitoids for the Neotropical region to (1) corroborate species records, (2) analyze associations including the T. absoluta, other insect and plant hosts and (3) identify research directions for enhancing their use as biological control agents. The literature review shows more than 50 species or morphospecies of Hymenoptera associated with T. absoluta, but less than a half (23) could be confirmed as parasitizing T. absoluta. Erroneous reports or invalid names of species, two new species records were found. Over a 100 pests and non-economically important insect and cultivated and non-cultivated plants directly or indirectly interact with T. absoluta in the region. Four T. absoluta parasitoid species include in their host range predatory insects or act as hyperparasitoids, a negative feature considered for a biological control agent. Five larval parasitoids have a narrow host range and could be considered for classical biological control programs in the areas of new invasion. Six Trichogrammatidae species are commercially used in various countries; of those, T. minutum and T. pretiosum are considered to be moderately generalist, being able to exploit several insect hosts. Apart from Apanteles gelechiidivoris and Pseudapanteles dignus, other native species have been the subject of field studies as biological control agents. The review presented here provides useful insights for identifying species that deserve further evaluation as T. absoluta biological control agents through augmentative or conservation strategies in South America, as well as for potential classical biological control programs in other continents.


Taxonomy Parasitoid ecology South American tomato pinworm Host range Food webs 



We thank N. Mujica (CIP, Peru), M. R. Manzano (Universidad Nacional de Colombia Sede Palmira, Colombia), J. L. Fernández-Triana (Canadian National Collection of Insects, Ottawa, Canada) for providing information on the biology or economic importance of parasitoid species in South America. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support from PICT-2015 1427 and PICT-2016-8034 (FONCYT, MINCYT, Argentina), and PID N829 (UNLP, Argentina) and 5A722192113 (University of Catania, Italy). Authors are also grateful to anonymous referees and the editor for constructive comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no conflict of interest exists.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centro de Estudios Parasitológicos y de Vectores (CEPAVE, CONICET-UNLP, Asociado CIC-BA)La PlataArgentina
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesUniversidad Nacional de San Antonio de Areco- UNSAdASan Antonio de ArecoArgentina
  3. 3.División EntomologíaMuseo de La Plata (FCNyM, UNLP)La PlataArgentina
  4. 4.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of CataniaCataniaItaly

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