Phthorimaea operculella

Phthorimaea operculella

Phthorimaea operculella (Polilla de la patata)

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Phthorimaea operculella, also known as potato or tobacco tuber moth, is a moth of the Gelechiidae family. It is an oligophagous insect that feeds on the family of plants Solanaceae and is especially known to be an important pest of potato crops. Currently, farmers use insecticides, parasites and sprinkler irrigation to prevent P. operculella infesting their farmland.

The tuber moth also has a rare oviposition process where the ovipositor contains sensors that pick up chemical signals emitted by the host plant, so the adult moth only needs to be near a host plant to spawn.


The tuberous potato has a body length of approximately 10 mm and a wingspan of approximately 12 mm. Adult moths have a narrow light brown body with grayish brown wings that contain a variety of small dark spots. The moth contains two sets of wings, both with frayed edges. Women are distinguished from men by having a black "X" pattern on their front wings when their wings are closed.


Potato tuber moth typically lives in areas near potatoes or near its family of host plants, Solanaceae. Temperature is an important factor in the survival and development rate of P. operculella, which is why they are usually found in warmer climates, preferring subtropical and tropical habitats.

The adult female P. operculella can lay more than 200 eggs throughout her life, depending on environmental conditions. The eggs are typically oval in shape, smooth and pearly to yellowish in color. The eggs usually take around five days to hatch. [2] Eggs can be placed in the soil next to a preferred host plant or are usually placed next to a vein on the leaf, between the shoot and the stem, or under the stem.


The larvae of Potato Tuber are typically 12-15 mm long and are white or yellow with a brown head and prothorax. As the larvae mature, their color changes from white / yellow to pink / green. The thorax contains small black spots and sows in each segment, and the larvae usually feed on their host plant until two weeks before pupation.

For the larvae to determine if they want to extract a particular host plant, they first spend 5 to 15 minutes walking around the leaves, attaching a silk thread to the surface as they go. The larvae make small changes of direction as they walk and occasionally bite the leaf four to five times. Once you select a location to extract, the larvae proceed to build a silk roof around the area and then begin to mine downwards, placing the pieces of leaves next to the hole.

In non-host plants, the larvae produce fewer test bites and silk deposits. On average, the larvae also walk faster and if they reach the edge of the leaf, they will leave the plant in its entirety instead of turning around.

The larvae of Potato Tuber moths can be very harmful for potato crops, as well as for tobacco and tomato plants.

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45 days / 6 weeks


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Phthorimaea operculella

Phthorimaea operculella (Polilla de la patata)

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