It also affects eggplants and peppers and all plants of the Solanaceae family but it is called Tomato moth because precisely against the latter it is particularly "bad" and creates damage that is enormous, especially for those who live by cultivation. Even in your own home garden, it is still annoying that this moth arrives to feed on ours future harvest Before us. Let's go together to find out what this little animal does, what damage it causes but above all how we can prevent and partially unmask its attacks before it compromises everything.
Tomato moth or Tuta absoluta: what it is
It is a moth, as announced, which lays cylindrical eggs, yellow in color but very very small so that with the naked eye it is difficult to find them if you do not go looking for them. They can be half a millimeter, let alone! By the time these eggs hatch, the larva is ready to make its debut in the world and usually is when it is nearly a millimeter long. They are light in color but on closer inspection they carry a characteristic dark stripe near the head.
We have to wait a few more weeks to see it transformed into chrysalis. At this stage, the prevailing color is green and all shades between green and brown. Initially the chrysalis is 4 mm long but when it becomes a butterfly, it reaches 10 mm and takes on a more pleasant shape, if then pleasant it can be defined as a moth that spoils our cultivated tomatoes. There butterfly it has gray wings with silvery shades and dark spots, almost black, on the front wings. From the head, however, filiform antennae emerge,
In all this life cycle that we have just described, it can last up to sixty days as well as just over a couple of weeks, then it starts all over again because as soon as the butterflies take flight they can begin to lay their tiny eggs again. and give birth to a new generation. During the summer, if you do the math a bit, you can see that they are numerous generations of Tignola del pomodoro that follow one another and from which we must defend ourselves. If we do not intervene to control the situation, they can trigger a real catastrophe. There are documented cases in which i lepidoptera they have also definitively damaged 70% of the tomato harvest and similarly could do for the other Solinaceae.
Holes in tomatoes: the damage of the moth
So far we've talked about damage without explaining what this really does moth. They are varied, to tell the truth, and not all of them yet known to experts. Certainly if we find tunnels inside the tomato leaves themselves, they are involved because they dig mines inside them, usually serpentiform and gradually taking more and more space until the leaf is definitively destroyed and reduced to a skeleton.
The Tignola del pomodoro also takes it out on theApex of the stems seedlings where the larvae are already able to penetrate, starting from the axilla of the leaves. Once inside, as with the leaves, they begin to dig their tunnels to reach the stem itself and thus cause the death of the upper part of the branches.
What about the holes in the tomatoes? We are getting there. Yes this moth yes also eat the tomatoes themselves always with his style. In order to feed and evolve, the larvae make a good feast of tomatoes as of eggplant and peppers, they dig tunnels starting to penetrate the fruit from the peduncle and gaining ground. It may happen that even more larvae decide to "bite" the same tomato until it falls to the ground and destroys it.
The dangers to plants linked to the Moth are not over. When a plant is under attack there is also the rrisk of a fungal infection occurring. This happens because the parts affected by the attack of the larvae weaken and can develop colonies of fungi and bacteria.
Moth or tomato worm: natural remedies
The first remedy is to prevent the Moth from attacking, then prevent. This can be done by preventing our plants from calling the moth by convincing them to lay their eggs right there, or by working the soil to disinfest it both before sowing and transplanting, depending on how we are operating. This means eliminating the pupae mechanically, before they become butterflies and lay other eggs,
What if the attack is already underway when we notice it? In this case it is better to isolate the affected plants and destroy them and at the same time we must protect the healthy ones with insect nets so they don't get infected. Diseased plants must not be used to make compost because they could be dangerous for our cultivation, instead they must be burned or taken to areas for collecting plant residues.
A good solution could also be to use a insecticide based on natural pyrethrum and therefore approved by the guidelines of organic farming. It is found in liquid form and must be diluted in water (20 ml every 10 liters), before being applied to plants affected by the Moth, preferably in the evening or early in the morning and making sure to pass the whole plant with this substance, especially the underside of the leaves. The treatment must be repeated every 7 days, always well protected with gloves and mask.
Tomato moth: how to eliminate it with insecticides
We can also rely on insecticides on the market and effective for this enemy of the basic vegetables of the Mediterranean diet. We invite you to consult and evaluate the product page on Amazon for this insecticide effective against fruit aphids such as moth.