Video: Scientists work to stop moth from destroying world's tomato crop

Feb 06, 2014 by Rich Mathieson

In countries around the world, a tiny insect is wreaking havoc on farms and threatening to push up the price of tomatoes. At a recent workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, scientists gathered to learn more about the tomato leafminer and ways to combat it.

Since the moth was detected in Ethiopia, the price of tomatoes there has risen fivefold, and the is just going to get worse, according to Muni Muniappan, who organized the workshop. He said farmers and scientists across East Africa and South Asia need to be taught to recognize the pest, also known as Tuta absoluta, so that as soon as it is discovered, they can take appropriate measures to prevent widespread damage.

After seeing the leafminer in action in tomato fields outside Addis Ababa, workshop participants drew up recommendations to be distributed to policymakers and in the region.

"If this pest isn't controlled, it can cause serious economic damage to the countries it has invaded," Muniappan said.

The insect, native to South America, crossed the Atlantic in 2006, when it was identified in Spain. It has since spread throughout most of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Senegal, Sudan, and Ethiopia. 

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Muniappan directs the USAID-funded Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab, managed by the Office of International Research, Education, and Development at Virginia Tech.

Explore further: Virginia Tech-led pest-control plan saves up to $309 million for Indian farmers, consumers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Presence of invasive insect in Senegal confirmed

Sep 28, 2012

(Phys.org)—A Virginia Tech-managed research program, the Integrated Pest Management Collaborative Research Support Program, has confirmed the presence of Tuta absoluta in Senegal, the first confirmation ...

Presence of insect pest discovered in Indonesia

Feb 07, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists with a Virginia Tech-led program have discovered the presence of the giant whitefly in western Java, the first known infestation of this pest in Asia. The scientists fear an infestation ...

DNA confirms genetically distinct lion population for Ethiopia

Oct 11, 2012

(Phys.org)—A team of international researchers has provided the first comprehensive DNA evidence that the Addis Ababa lion in Ethiopia is genetically unique and is urging immediate conservation action to preserve this vulnerable ...

Ethiopia signs $4 billion geothermal deal

Oct 23, 2013

Ethiopia signed a $4 billion deal Wednesday with American-Icelandic company Reykjavik Geothermal to develop a 1000-megawatt geothermal farm, officials said.

Recommended for you

How can we help endangered vultures?

Oct 24, 2014

Zoologists from the School of Natural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin are proposing an ingenious idea to help conserve populations of African white-backed vultures. The iconic birds, which play a critical ...

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

Oct 24, 2014

Amargosa voles, small rodents that inhabit rare marshes of the Mojave Desert, have faced dire circumstances in recent years. Loss of habitat, extreme drought and climate change brought this subspecies of ...

User comments : 0