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Prepare for the worst, scope for the pest

Li Yingxue | Updated: 2020-11-09 07:47
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Fall webworm, a pest originally from North America, found in Jinzhou, Liaoning province, in 2011.[Photo by Wu Zhike/China Daily]

Scientists are locked in an ongoing battle to repel invasive alien species that threaten China's ecosystem, Li Yingxue reports.

Tuta absoluta, or the tomato leaf miner, is a small dark-colored moth and a devastating pest for tomatoes. Feeding damage is caused by its larvae at all of its developmental stages, or instars, and takes place throughout the whole plant except the root. An infestation can quickly occur throughout an entire crop cycle.

They live on and in the leaves, stems, flowers and also in the fruit itself. On leaves, the larvae form irregular burrows-like mines inside the leaf, hence the critter's moniker-which may become necrotic and cause the leaves to die. In the fruit, as well as being attacked by the larvae, the holes and spaces formed by the voracious eaters can invite secondary pathogens into the tomato, causing it to rot.

If not managed properly, it is capable of causing total yield losses.

Originating in South America, it invaded in Spain in 2006 and rapidly spread across Southern Europe and North Africa engulfing all of the countries in the Mediterranean region.

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