Tuta absoluta (Meyrick; Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a key pest of tomato and is quickly spreading over the world. We conducted an experiment aimed at evaluating the control capacity and risk for plant damage of three Neotropical mirid species, Campyloneuropsis infumatus (Carvalho; Hemiptera: Miridae), Engytatus varians (Distant; Hemiptera: Miridae) and Macrolophus basicornis (Stal; Hemiptera: Miridae) on T. absoluta infested tomato plants in large cages in an experimental greenhouse. During three successive periods of 9 wk each, we followed population development of the three mirids when exposed to T. absoluta, and of T. absoluta alone in separate cages in the greenhouse. We determined weekly the numbers of T. absoluta eggs and larvae per leaf, the number of mirid predators per leaf, the percentage of damaged leaves and fruits by T. absoluta, and the weight of fruits. Two of the mirid predators, C. infumatus and M. basicornis, successfully established on T. absoluta infested tomato plants and significantly reduced T. absoluta numbers, which ultimately resulted in an increased yield. These two mirid species hardly injured tomato plants or fruits as a result of plant feeding. Surprisingly, the species E. varians, which showed high predation rates in laboratory experiments, did not establish and reduce pest populations in any of the tests.
- Biological control
- Tomato borer