Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae

Tecia solanivora


Tecia solanivora (Povolný, 1973)

Common names: Guatemalan potato moth (English); teigne guatémaltèque de la pomme de terre (French); polilla guatemalteca de la papa, polilla gigante de la papa, polilla centroamericana, palomilla de la papa, polilla de Guatemala (Spanish).

Original combination: Scrobipalpopsis solanivora Povolný, 1973

Synonyms: none

Alternative combination: Ptycerata solanivora

Classification: Gelechioidea: Gelechiidae: Gelechiinae: Gnorimoschemini

Adult recognition

Adults are about 8.7-11.0 mm in forewing length. They are brown or brownish gray, with two grayish black spots in the discal cell and a grayish black longitudinal streak from one fifth of median to preapex. The labial palpus is upturned. The hindwing is subrectangular. The sexes are dimorphic in size and coloration. Males (not illustrated) are smaller than females, dark brown or brownish-gray in color, and marked with a wing pattern of two stigmata but mostly without strong longitudinal lines. Females are marked with a wing pattern of three stigmata and longitudinal lines. Male genitalia have a hook-shaped gnathos, and the valva is elongate and regularly curved. The vinculum is deeply excavated medially and has paired conical processes with outwardly curved tips. Females have the antrum not developed and a thorn-like signum with base not protruding.

Immature stages

Larvae when fully grown are about 12-15 mm long. The prothoracic shield is uniformly brown or black. The line joining setae L1 and S2 is posterior to stemma I. The mandible is triangular with 3 or 4 teeth. The SD1 pinaculum of the abdomen is much larger than the corresponding spiracle of that segment. The crochets on A3-6 are mostly uniordinal, and the L group of A9 is usually bisetose (occasionally trisetose on one side only).

PDF - Dichotomous key to Gelechiid larvae

Similar species

This species is can be recognized by its large size and by the forewing pattern with two grayish-black spots in the discal cell and a grayish-black longitudinal streak from the median fifth to the preapex.

The well developed outer tooth, pigmented thoracic legs, bisetose L group and hairlike SD1 on A9 and the Latin American/European distribution will separate Tecia solanivora from other species in this Tool.


Eggs are laid at dusk, singularly or in groups, in the soil near the base of the host-plant, on uncovered tubers, and occasionally on the foliage of host-plant. However, females can deposit eggs on tubers in storage facilities. After eclosing, larvae penetrate and attack the tubers to produce multiple galleries, and they can completely destroy the tubers.


Native to South America. South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru), Central America and Caribbean (Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama), Mexico, Europe (Spain).


Solanum tuberosum L. (Irish potato)


Since this species was first described from Costa Rica in 1973, its range has been extended to be in Central America and further into South America. Recently, it was found in Mexico. Now it is reported to occur in Spain (Canary Islands). This species is known as a serious pest on potato crops and stocks in these countries. Also, damage caused by this species is known to possibly lead to secondary rotting.


Busck, 1939.

EPPO, 2005a.

Hilje, 1994.

Hill, 1975.

Hill, 1987.

Lal and Krishna Prasad, 1987.

Misra and Agrawal, 1988.

Povolný, 1973.

Povolný, 1994.

Povolný, 2004.

Povolný and Hula, 2004.

Roblero et al., 2011.

Torres et al., 1997.