First Record of Zelus obscuridorsis (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) as a Predator of the South American Tomato Leafminer, Tuta absoluta (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae)

Stefano Speranza, M. Cecilia Melo, M. Gabriela Luna, Eduardo G. Virla


The South American tomato leafminer Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) is a Neotropical key pest of tomato in South America, and in recent years, it has become established in Europe and Africa. Recently we found the native true bug, Zelus obscuridorsis (Stål, 1860) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae), predating diverse mobile insects in household vegetable gardens located in northwestern Argentina. We found that Z. obscuridorsis preys on mobile stages of T. absoluta, i.e., free larvae and adults but not on larvae in their mines, pupae or eggs. This is the first record of a Zelus species as predator of T. absoluta. We discuss the importance of this predator consuming only mobile items, in terms of using little exploited host niches, and its possible relationships with other antagonistic species of T. absoluta.


La Polilla del tomate, Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae), es una plaga neotropical clave para el cultivo de tomate en Sudamérica, que ha expandido su distribución a Europa y África.  Recientemente hallamos en una finca hortícola del noroeste argentino a la chinche Zelus obscuridorsis (Stål, 1860) (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) atacando diversos insectos móviles. Verificamos que depreda estados móviles, como larvas libres y adultos, pero no a las larvas en sus minas, huevos y pupas. Este es el primer registro de una especie del género Zelus como depredador de T. absoluta. Se discute la importancia de este depredador, que solo consume individuos móviles, considerando que explota un nicho poco utilizado por otras especies antagonistas de la plaga.


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Argentina; Reduviidae; tomato borer; biological control; entomophagous

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