Life cycle of Tuta absoluta
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Tuta absoluta is a very harmful leaf mining moth. It occurs on eggplants, sweet peppers as well as potatoes and various other cultivated plants, but has a strong preference for tomatoes. Tuta absoluta can cause 50-100% yield reduction on tomato crops. Adult females lay eggs on host plants. The creamy white to yellow eggs are laid mostly on the underside of leaves. One female may deposit up to 260 eggs during her life. The larvae that hatch from the eggs are the most damaging to the crop. They prefer leaves and stems and feed on plant tissue by creating mines. These mines lead to cosmetic damage, leaves drying out or even early defoliation. Which can affect the yield. Indirect damage occurs when fungi or bacteria enter the damaged fruit, leading to rotten fruit. Four larval instars develop. This development takes place in 12-15 days. In between moulting, caterpillars can temporarily be found outside the leaf mines or fruit. Pupation may take place in the soil, on the leaf surface or within mines. An adult Tuta absoluta will emerge from the pupa. Tuta absoluta reproduces rapidly, with a life cycle ranging from 24-38 days. The moths are active during night and hide between leaves during day.