False codling moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick) is a pest native to sub-Saharan Africa infesting over 100 plant species including tomato. Its survival and performance are influenced by changes in precipitation and stress-related biochemical changes in the host plant. Water availability for agricultural production continues to decline due to climate change affecting drought-sensitive crops like tomatoes. Little is known on host plant-insect interactions of T. leucotreta and tomato as influenced by moisture stress.
"Hence, our study tested the impact of different water holding capacities (WHC) (40 - 90%) of plant growing media on the growth of two tomato varieties and the infestation rate and development of T. leucotreta on the two varieties," a group of researchers shares.
They concluded that WHC significantly influenced the growth of Anna F1 and Yaye tomato varieties. "WHC significantly affected stem girth of Anna F1 variety and leaf length, leaf width, stem girth, and plant height of the Yaye variety. For Yaye variety, T. leucotreta laid a significantly high number of eggs when grown at 70% WHC and had the highest pupation when grown at 60% WHC."
The development of T. leucotreta as observed on wing growth was highest at 40% and 50% WHC for both Anna F1 variety and Yaye variety. "Our study shows that the infestation of tomato by T. leucotreta is likely to be high when grown in water-scarce media. The results are useful for predicting possible future T. leucotreta trends with increasing water scarcity due to climate change and in designing pest management programmes."
Patrick, Esther & Koomen, I. & Ndlela, Shepard & Wesonga, John. (2021). Effect of Moisture Stress on the Development of False Codling Moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on Two Tomato Varieties. Neotropical Entomology. 10.1007/s13744-021-00904-z.