Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae

Neoleucinodes elegantalis


Neoleucinodes elegantalis (Guenée, 1854)

Common name: Tomato fruit borer

Original combination: Leucinodes elegantalis Guenée, 1854

Synonyms: none.

Alternative combinations: none.

Classification: Pyraloidea, Crambidae, Spilomelinae, Leucinodes group

Adult recognition

Forewing length: 8.0 - 13.0 mm, broad. The frons is rounded, not swollen and without projections. The labial palpi are sexually dimorphic: males have a short apical segment, whereas females have the apical segment nearly as long as the middle one. The male genitalia have narrow, triangular valvae. The fibula is scoop-shaped with a rather hollow base and is closer to the base than to the apex of the valva. The cornutus is long and straight. The female genitalia have moderately elongate apophyses and a sclerotized, cup-shaped ostium without noticeable sclerotization. The antrum has only a narrow thickening.

Immature stages

Larvae are white to pale pink and grow to 2 cm. The pinacula are generally not pigmented, although the dorsal pinacula of the thorax may be pale brown. The prothoracic shield is yellow-brown and lacks distinctive markings. The D1 pinacula do not have distinct spots anterior of the setae. The A1 SV group usually has one seta but rarely has two. The SD1 seta on A8 is anterior or anterodorsal of the spiracle.

Similar species

Neoleucinodes silvaniae Diaz and Solis, 2007 is a similar cryptic species known from Colombia. It is slightly smaller and feeds on Solanum lanceifolium Jacq. Females have short labial palpi like those of males, with a short apical meron, and short ovipositor apophyses; the male valvae have smaller, flatter fibulae and a short cornutus; and the larvae have distinctly pigmented pinacula on the second thoracic segment; further differences are cited in Diaz and Solis (2007). Neoleucinodes prophetica also has shorter labial palpi. The male genitalia have the fibula in the distal half of the valva (beyond halfway). The female genitalia have a thickened antrum and an ostium bursae with a narrowly sclerotized lip.


Larvae bore in fruit. Females lay eggs preferentially on the underside of the calyx of fruits 1–3 cm in diameter, only rarely on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5–7 days, and the larval stage lasts 15–19 days, undergoing normally 5 instars. Larvae bore into fruit within one or two hours, leaving a 0.5 mm pinhole. They consume seeds and fruit flesh. One to three larvae per fruit is the norm, but up to 18 is possible. Larvae exit the fruit and, after a pre-pupal stage of 1–2 days, pupate in a rolled leaf edge or among plant debris on the ground. Pupation lasts about 11 days. Adults are nocturnal and live about one week. There are multiple generations per year. The male pheromone is widely used for monitoring.


The species does not occur in North America, but it is reported as far north as the Greater Antilles. It is broadly distributed in Central and South America, including: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.


Capsicum annuum L. (pepper)

Cyphomandra betacea (Cav.) Sendtn. (tree tomato)

Solanum lycopersicum L. (tomato)

S. acerifolium Dunal

S. aethiopicum L. (scarlet eggplant)

S. atropurpureum Schrank

S. capsicoides All. (cockroach berry)

S. crinitum Lam.

S. hirtum Vahl.

S. melongena L. (eggplant)

S. ovigerum” (ornamental white eggplant)

S. palinacanthum Dunal

S. pseudolulo

S. quitoense Lam. (naranjilla)

S. racemiflorum

S. sessiliflorum Dunal (cocona)

S. sisymbriifolium Lam. (sticky nightshade)

S. torvum Sw.

S. sect. torvum

S. viarum Dunal


Neoleucinodes elegantalis has been intercepted in Europe along with imports of Solanum melongena from Surinam and the Dominican Republic.

Díaz-Montilla, Suárez-Baron, et al. (2013) found population genetic differences and segregation of COI haplotypes among different areas and host plants in Colombia.


Capps, 1948.

Díaz and Solis, 2007.

Díaz-Montilla, Solis, and Kondo, 2013.

Díaz-Montilla, Suárez-Baron et al., 2013.

Eiras and Blackmer, 2003.

Molet, 2012.

Passoa, 1985.

Teles Pontes et al., 2010.

Photo credits

Figs. 10 and 11: © Ana Elizabeth Diaz Montilla, Corpoica La Selva (Colombia).