Tomato crop damage caused by the leafminers, Tuta absoluta and Liriomyza spp.

To help you identify and distinguish between these two leafminer species found in the UK, read about the different features of crop damage they cause in tomato crops.

Go back to the tomato leafminer main page

If in doubt, growers should consult Defra PHSI.

Adult feeding

Liriomyza spp.

Adult female Liriomyza tend to migrate to the top of the crop canopy where they feed on the upper leaf surface causing numerous small bleached spots. When the population is large, this type of damage alone can destroy the leaves.

Female Tuta also tend to migrate to the top of the crop canopy to lay eggs but do not cause direct damage themselves.

Feeding marks caused by adult Liriomyza. Copyright Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Shape of mines

Tuta absoluta

Tuta larvae produce a distinct ‘blotch’ mine with an accumulation of dark-coloured frass in one part of the mine.

Liriomyza bryoniae mines are linear with frass evenly distributed.

The notifiable pests, Liriomyza huidobrensis and L. trifolii, produce linear mines but they are more convoluted. 

A leaf mine caused by Tuta absoluta. Copyright of Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Liriomyza bryoniae

Liriomyza bryoniae mine. Copyright Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Liriomyza huidobrensis

 Liriomyza huidobrensis mine. Copyright Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Damage to plant growing points

Tuta absoluta

Damaged growing point caused by Tuta absoluta. Copyright of Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Under some conditions, which are not yet fully understood, young Tuta absoluta larvae migrate to the top of the plant where they graze more openly on the furled leaves. This is potentially very serious because it can rapidly result in destruction of the growing point.

Liriomyza spp.

Damage to young growth caused by Liriomyza. Copyright Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Liriomyza larvae do not cause grazing damage to the growing point as described for Tuta absoluta. However, when populations are very large, excessive feeding by adult Liriomyza can cause direct damage to young plant growth.

Damage to leaf petioles and stems

Tuta larvae sometimes tunnel into leaf petioles and stems. If the petiole is damaged, the whole leaf will shrivel and die. Weakened stems may break during routine crop work resulting in the loss of production from that plant for the remainder of the season.

Liriomyza larvae occasionally move into leaf petioles where they have the same effect as Tuta. However, they are not known to enter plant stems.

A damage stem caused by Tuta absoluta. Copyright of Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Fruit damage by Tuta absoluta

If a Tuta larva penetrates a fruit, the entrance point is often below the calyx where it may be overlooked during crop monitoring. However, the exit holes are larger and more obvious.

A Tuta larva may still be present inside a fruit when it is harvested. If so, it will continue to develop and then emerge in transit or storage.

Liriomyza larvae do not tunnel in fruit.

Fruit damage caused by Tuta absoluta. Copyright of Dr R J Jacobson (RJC Ltd).

© Dr R J Jacobson

Useful links

Learn about the different biological features between Tuta absoluta and Liriomyza spp.

Read information about how to control Tuta absoluta in your crops

Find more news and information on integrated pest management via our IPM hub

Author

The content on this page was authored for AHDB by Dr Rob Jacobson (Rob Jacobson Consultancy Ltd).

Got a question? Ask a member of the team:

Image of staff member Nathalie Key

Nathalie Key

Knowledge Exchange Manager (Protected Edibles, Vine Crops, Mushrooms)
×