Director forms working group on invasive species

illustration of South American tomato leafminer
The larva of the South American tomato leafminer, or Tuta absoluta, a kind of moth, feeds voraciously on tomato plants. (Illustration by Steven White,

At the August meeting of the International Plant Protection Congress in Berlin, IPM IL director Muni Muniappan called for the formation of a working group on the invasive species Tuta absoluta – the South American tomato leafminer.

The tiny insect, no larger than an eyelash, is causing up to 80 – 100 percent losses in infected fields. While tomato is the preferred host, Tuta can also attack other solanaceous plants such as eggplant, potato, and pepper. The economic impact of the invasive species has been severe in countries where it has become established, leading to major increases in pest management costs.

To address the threat, Muniappan issued a call to form a working group on the moth, and in the weeks immediately following the IPPC Congress, membership has coalesced. Expected to lead this group are Shoki Al-Dobai, the regional crop protection officer of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations for Near East and North Africa, who is based in Cairo, and Ahmed Hussein El-Heneidy, an entomologist with the Plant Protection Research Institute, based in Egypt.

The working group will help raise awareness of the urgency of combating the pest and will serve to establish a place to share new discoveries regarding its control, Muniappan says.

Director forms working group on invasive species