The tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta Meyrick 1917 (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a major pest of tomato Solanum lycopersicum Linnaeus 1753 (Solanales: Solanaceae) crops in Tunisia and the Western Palaearctic region. Current control programmes to manage this moth in greenhouses and open field tomato cultivations include, among others, pheromone-based strategies through male annihilation, mating disruption, and lure and kill technique. Despite recent advances in the efficiencies of pheromone lures and traps, low or moderate control has often been reported by researchers and growers. In 2012 the first known case of parthenogenesis in T. absoluta was reported in a French population of the pest. Although such reproduction mode was not proven to occur in nature, this discovery raised many concerns about the future of pheromones for the control of this moth, since their use is absolutely dependent on the assumption that the pest can only reproduce sexually. In this paper, we report the ability of three Tunisian populations of T. absoluta to reproduce asexually under laboratory conditions by assessing age-specific and total female fecundity, egg viability and adult longevity. Also, we discuss the possible implications for IPM programmes targeting this pest.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3