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The tomato pinworm is a small, microlepidopteran moth that is often confused with closely related species, which have similar habits. Apparently, much of the damage to tomatoes attributed to the eggplant leafminer Gnorimoschema glochinella Zeller in Mexico and California during the early s was actually inflicted by the tomato pinworm Morrill It persisted in the literature as the eggplant leafminer until redescribed as a new species Busck collected from tomatoes.
It was later synonymized with Eucatoptus lycopersicella Walshingham. Capps provided a key, with descriptions, that defines the species and permits identification of larvae with which it might be confused. Figure 1. Adult of the tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham. Photograph by David J. Schuster, University of Florida.
Also, they have been reported from greenhouses in Delaware, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Fields near greenhouses may become infested, but the species does not overwinter out of doors in colder regions Thomas In Florida, it is common in tomato-producing areas south of Tampa along the west coast and from Ft.
Pierce south along the east coast. The developmental time for each stage from egg to adult is shown in the table below Elmore and Howland Eggs are laid singly or grouped in twos and threes on the host-plant foliage. The eggs are opaque, pale yellow when laid, but turn orange before hatching.
The first instar larvae spin a tent of silk over themselves and tunnel into the leaf. Further feeding results in a blotch-like mine usually on the same leaf.
The third and fourth larval stages feed from within tied leaves, folded portions of a leaf, or enter stems or fruits. Mature larvae abandon the host and form a loose pupal cell of sand grains near the soil surface. The adult emerges from this pupal cell two to four weeks later. Although the life cycle is lengthy, generations overlap and infestations quickly mount to damaging proportions.
Seven or eight generations or more per year can be expected. Figure 2. Larva of the tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida. Figure 3. Larvae of the tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham.
Photograph by University of Florida. Plants of the nightshade family, Solanaceae , are the preferred hosts of pinworms. Tomato, Lycopersicon esculentum L. Weeds such as Solanum carolinense L. Tomato, potato, eggplant, and a weed, Solanum bahamese L.
Damage to tomatoes results from the feeding of larvae on leaves, stems and fruit. Initial injury is slight and appears as a small leaf mine. Later injury includes leaf folding and leaf tying. Mature larvae may abandon the leaf and bore into the fruit leaving a small "pin" size hole. Secondary damage results when plant tissues become infected by pathogens and the plant dies or the fruit rots. Approximately 60 to 80 percent of tomato fruits may become infested in a single season Elmore and Howland Figure 4.
Leaf mining damage caused by the tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham. Figure 5. Leaf folding damage to tomato by the tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham. Figure 6. Tomato foliage showing field damage by tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham. Figure 7. Tomato fruit showing damage by tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham.
Figure 8. Tomato pinworm, Keiferia lycopersicella Walshingham , damage on tomatoes. Photograph by Van Waddill, University of Florida. Several sanitary measures should be followed because infestations often result from shipment of pinworms in picking containers, crates, infested fruit or seedlings, and from populations perpetuated on plants left in fields after harvest or left in seed flats or compost heaps Poe The precautions include use of transplants that are free of eggs and larvae when set in the field, and the destruction of all plant debris in fields after harvest.
Populations may be controlled early during the first or second larval stages with several recommended insecticides Poe ; however, third or fourth instars are protected by leaf folds or fruit, making the control of older infestations difficult.
Consequently, chemical control is contingent upon frequent and accurate observations of fields for pinworm mines. Insect Management Guide for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. Life History Back to Top The developmental time for each stage from egg to adult is shown in the table below Elmore and Howland Economic Importance Back to Top Damage to tomatoes results from the feeding of larvae on leaves, stems and fruit.
Management Back to Top Several sanitary measures should be followed because infestations often result from shipment of pinworms in picking containers, crates, infested fruit or seedlings, and from populations perpetuated on plants left in fields after harvest or left in seed flats or compost heaps Poe Phthorimaea lycopersicella , N.
Family: Gelechiidae a leaf feeder on tomato Lep. Hawaiian Entomology Society Proceedings 7: Capps HW. Description of the larvae of Keiferia penicula Heim.
Annals of the Entomological Society of America Life history and control of the tomato pinworm. Poe SL. The tomato pinworm in Florida. Thomas CA. Observations on the tomato pinworm Gnorimoschema lycopersicella Busck and the eggplant leafminer G.
Journal of Economic Entomology
Keiferia lycopersicella , the tomato pinworm , is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It has also been reported from greenhouses in Delaware , Mississippi , Missouri , Pennsylvania and Virginia. There are seven to eight generations per year. The larvae feed on Solanaceae species, including Lycopersicon esculentum , Solanum melongena , Solanum tuberosum , Solanum carolinense , Solanum xanthii , Solanum umbelliferum and Solanum bahamense.
Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae
Adults are about 4. They are variably light to medium gray mottled with dark gray and yellowish-orange. The labial palpus is upturned. The hindwing is trapezoidal with gray cilia, modified with hair-pencils above from the base of the costal margin in males.
List of symptoms / signs
The tomato pinworm mainly attacks tomato, but it can also survive in other Solanaceae species, especially eggplant and potato. It is frequently confused with similar species that might be present, with which it shares similar habits. Due to the initial damage of the larva which forms a mine, it can be confused with the eggplant leafminer Gnorimoschema glochinella. For control, pheromones are usually used to disrupt the mating of adults, preventing oviposition. The eggs are whitish in colour to start with, then turn brown or orange as they develop and can be found on the underside of the leaves. When the presence of the pest is high, they can be found on any part of the plant.
Authors: Dr. David G. Riley - University of Georgia. The moths are small with a wingspan of mm. The oval forewings are light brown to gray with orangish or brownish longitudinal streaks throughout, giving the moth a speckled appearance.