Bug Blog

Tomatoes Targeted in Insect Assassination Attempt

Tomatoes Targeted in Insect Assassination Attempt

Get the pesticides, gather those nets, and practice your garden hose marksmanship because a deadly tiny invader is heading our way, hell-bent on destroying our precious tomatoes. The South American Leafminer is on the loose and creating chaos wherever it goes. Tomatoes, worth about $2 billion a year in sales in the U.S., are this invasive insect’s prime target. And it’s at our doorstep, having already taken over Panama and Costa Rica. The tiny moth has already decimated 40 percent of the world’s tomato crop, and is reported to cause near total crop loss.

This tiny assassin bores into the stem, leaves, and fruit of tomato plants, leaving total destruction in its wake. The pest remains largely unchecked as it has no natural predators as of yet. Quarantine measures have already been put into effect for all tomatoes being imported from countries that have already been taken over by the insect. Dr. Amer Fayad warns that we need to be, “making sure that they don’t contain the leaves, stems or the calyx, because this is how this insect could move from these countries into the U.S.” The epidemic is so serious that the USDA is not even allowing research to be done on the insect in this country.

As one of the major food staples in this country, the safety of the tomato crop is paramount. Imagine a life without ketchup or BLTs. What would be the point of life?

Do you grow tomatoes in your garden? How big a part does this fruit play in your life? Think about it.