IPM Innovation Lab researchers spoke at the International Congress of Entomology

Scientists and researchers gathered at the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida last month, and the IPM Innovation Lab was there. During the Congress, we led two symposia, including one symposium  on the global spread of the South American tomato leafminer, Tuta absoluta, resulting in the group recommending a number of measures.

  • Expand the Invasive Species Modeling project led by Virginia Tech’s Biocomplexity Institute to develop a network for predicting the pest’s spread on a global scale.
  • Undertake a concentrated effort to look for natural enemies in Tuta absoluta’s area of origin in South America.
  • Encourage donor agencies to support Tuta abosluta management programs on a global scale.
  • Organize regional and international meetings on Tuta absoluta monitoring and management.
  • Provide information on appropriate insecticide rotations for pest management in the fields.
  • Prepare an international roster of people working on the problem.

The tomato leafminer is devastating and moves fast. In the past decade, it has gone from affecting 3 percent to 60 percent of the world’s tomatoes. The symposium drew nearly 70 participants from countries around the world – Nigeria, Canada, Costa Rica, Spain, India, and others. It ended with participants sharing their recommendations on how to work together to try to halt the pest’s spread.

From left at the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab's exhibit at the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando: Associate Director Amer Fayad, Asia Program Manager E. Short Heinrichs, collaborator Malik Ba, Director Muni Muniappan, and collaborator Sulav Paudel.

From left at the Integrated Pest Management Innovation Lab’s exhibit at the International Congress of Entomology in Orlando: Associate Director Amer Fayad, Asia Program Manager E. Short Heinrichs, collaborator Malik Ba, Director Muni Muniappan, and collaborator Sulav Paudel.

The pest is currently in more than 50 countries around the world. This past spring, it wiped out 80 percent of Nigeria’s tomatoes. The pest has not yet reached the United States, but it is already as far north as Costa Rica, and many scientists believe it is only a matter of time before it reaches North America.

“When it comes to controlling a pest as destructive and pervasive as Tuta absoluta, it is imperative that we all work together,” said IPM IL Director Muni Muniappan.

The International Congress of Entomology, like the Olympics, is held every four years, and countries bid to host it. In addition to the symposium on the tomato leafminer, our Innovation Lab also organized a symposium on integrated pest management for tropical crops, including presentations from project partners working in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.

A related exhibit detailed information about eight projects around the world that work to curb food insecurity by fighting agricultural pests in an environmentally friendly manner.