Wasp that controls tomato-pest Tuta absoluta is discovered by Dutch scientists

Natural enemies to the tomato leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) - a pest that over the past few years has made its way from the Mediterranean into at least a dozen British glasshouses - have been discovered by scientists in Holland.

Scientists from Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture discovered natural enemies of the pest in the Netherlands' Kinderdijk nature reserve, which is home to a wide variety of insects.

Tuta absoluta was used as bait for the indigenous fauna as tomato plants carrying the insect's eggs were brought into the reserve. Plants that had many caterpillars on them were shown to work as a magnet for a variety of predators - including a plant bug that attacks the larvae and thrives well on tomatoes and parasitic wasps belonging to the family Eulophidae.

A Wageningen UR representative said: "One of these wasps successfully parasitised and produced offspring. This parasitic wasp is being cultured for identification and further research. If it is shown to be suitable, we will start looking for a related but harmless moth for the production of the parasitic wasps and will then develop an effective method to introduce them into the crop."

This means the salad industry could in future have a form of biological control option for the pest, which hails from South America and is also known as the South American tomato moth.

The Dutch scientists discovered the pests as part of a research project commissioned by the Dutch fresh produce industry and the country's Product Board for Horticulture.

Since 2007, the insect has been a serious problem for tomato growers in Spain and Morocco. In the UK, growers are taking steps to control the pest - the most recent outbreak of which occurred last month at a site in Worcestershire.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

How will reduced apple and pear harvests hit the industry?

This spring, many top-fruit growers in the UK and across Europe were dismayed to discover that swathes of their orchards had been hit by frost.

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

How should fruit growers prepare for water abstraction reform?

Upcoming reforms to water abstraction licensing will for the first time cap the amount of water that fruit growers can take for trickle irrigation.

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

Getting a measure of the production labour crisis

At a debate during last week's Fruit Focus trade show in Kent, senior industry figures painted a bleak picture of an increasingly difficult seasonal labour market that is already impacting on investment.