The tobacco caterpillar (Spodoptera litura) is a pest of tomato crops that can cause significant damage to the leaves and fruit of the plant. It is a medium-sized moth that is active at night and lays its eggs in clusters on the leaves of the tomato plant. The caterpillars feed on the leaves and fruit of the plant, causing irregular holes and defoliation. This can result in reduced yields and lower-quality crops.
Tobacco Caterpillar management in Tomato
The life cycle of the Tobacco Caterpillar
- The tobacco caterpillar goes through four stages in its lifecycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
- The female lays about 300 eggs in clusters that hatch in 3-5 days.
- The larva stage lasts 15-30 days, and the caterpillar measures 35-40 mm in length when fully grown.
- The pupa stage takes place in the soil and lasts 7-15 days.
- The adult stage is a moth that is active at night and lasts 7-10 days.
- The life cycle takes 32-60 days, with eight generations in a year.
Identification of Tobacco Caterpillar in Tomato field
These characteristics can be used to identify the tobacco caterpillar pest at each stage of its lifecycle:
- Egg: The egg masses of the tobacco caterpillar appear golden brown.
- Larva: The larva is pale greenish with dark markings and is gregarious in the early growth stage, later becoming solitary feeders.
- Pupa: The pupa is found in the soil and is brownish.
- Adult: The adult is a medium-sized and stout-bodied moth with pale grey to dark brown forewings and wavy white crisscross markings. The hind wings are whitish, with brown patches along the margin of the wing. The adult is active at night.
Damage symptoms of Tobacco Caterpillar in Tomato field
The tobacco caterpillar causes damage to plants by feeding on leaves, which results in the following:
- Early damage symptoms: In the early stages, the caterpillars feed in groups and scrape off the chlorophyll from the leaf lamina, causing it to take on a papery white appearance.
- Irregular holes on leaves: As the caterpillars grow and become voracious feeders, they create irregular holes in the leaves.
- Skeletonization: As the feeding continues, the leaves become skeletonized, leaving only the veins and petioles.
- Heavy defoliation: The heavy feeding of the caterpillar results in significant defoliation of the plant.
- Bored fruits: The caterpillar may also bore into fruits and cause irregular holes
Tobacco Caterpillar management in Tomato by Cultural method
Cultural control of the tobacco caterpillar can include the following measures:
- Use of pheromone traps: Install traps baite