New pest could decimate Trinidad tomato crops

A new pest, called the tomato leaf miner, has been spotted in parts of Trinidad. It could potentially destroy tomato, pepper, and melongene crops. According to an entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Fisheries, Rishi Mohansingh, the pest, a tiny moth, burrows into the stems of tomato plants and fruits during the caterpillar stage and can cause 80 to 100 percent losses.

"We have a new pest in this country, and it's called tuta absoluta, commonly called tomato leafminer, which it's a moth. The creature feeds at night and affects tomatoes, peppers, and melongene. Now we know these are very high-priced commodities in our country, and it's affecting the fruit, it also affects the plant, but mainly the fruit, so that can cause a lot of issues."

Mohansingh said the ministry set out traps to catch the pest and so far have noted the pest along Trinidad's East-West corridor, and it's spreading to the Caroni area.

In terms of management, Mohansingh advised that home gardeners and farmers adopt an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach: "We're setting up traps and also using chemicals as a way of bringing down the population. Control your weeds, and you don't want weeds overgrown in or around your field. They will hide in there and then come back onto your plants."

Mohansingh said because the pest likes tomatoes, peppers, and melongene, crop rotation is also a good method.



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