Efficacy of Bacillus thuringiensis (Berliner) in controlling the tomato borer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)
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The tomato borer, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), is considered to be one of the most devastating pests affecting tomato crops in South America, where crop losses range from 60 to 100%. After its detection in the Spanish tomato-growing area at the end of 2006, it spread quickly to other European and northern African countries. Currently, T. absoluta management in these countries is mainly based on chemical treatments. Nonetheless, special emphasis is being placed on implementing environmentally safe strategies. Commercial formulates based on Bacillus thuringiensis may be a good alternative, as they have been used to control other insect pests successfully. The laboratory, greenhouse, and open-field experiments presented in this work are evidence that B. thuringiensis is highly efficient in controlling T. absoluta. First instar larvae were the most susceptible, while susceptibility was lower in second and third instar larvae. Our results have shown that the impact of T. absoluta can be greatly reduced by spraying only B. thuringiensis-based formulates, with no need for chemical insecticides. Furthermore, the integration of this technology with other biological control methods focused on T. absoluta eggs, such as the use of mirid predators or parasitoids, could reduce the number of B. thuringiensis treatments and the use of chemicals, with the consequent reduction of residues on fruits.