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Ecology - Microbiology - Science Policy

Assessing European Egg Parasitoids as a Mean of Controlling the Invasive South American Tomato Pinworm Tuta absoluta
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Author: Anaïs Chailleux et al.

by Anaïs Chailleux, Nicolas Desneux, Julien Seguret, Hong Do Thi Khanh, Pascal Maignet, Elisabeth Tabone

The South American tomato pinworm (Tuta absoluta) has recently invaded Europe and is rapidly spreading in the Afro-Eurasian continent where it is becoming a major pest on tomato crops. Laboratory tests were undertaken to evaluate the potential of 29 European strains of Trichogramma parasitoids to control T. absoluta. In addition to the host itself, the host plant (tomato) was used during the laboratory tests in order to increase the chance of selecting the best parasitoid strains. Trichogramma females were placed with T. absoluta eggs on a tomato leaflet in tubes. We compared the parasitism of T. absoluta by the various Trichogramma species tested to the Trichogramma species currently commercially available for the pest control in Europe, i.e. Trichogramma achaeae. Thereafter, the more promising strains were tested on a larger scale, in mesocosm (i.e. cages in greenhouses) and in greenhouse compartments to evaluate efficiency of laboratory selected strains under cropping conditions. The most efficient strain from the laboratory screening trials did not perform as efficiently under the greenhouse conditions. We discuss differences in parasitism levels among species and strains and among the different scales tested in the experiments, as well as implications of these results for further screening for biocontrol agents.