A moth with a voracious appetite for tomatoes made its way from its native South America across the Atlantic to Spain in 2006, before setting its infinitesimal foot in the Middle East and then recently Africa. The female tomato leaf miner lays a couple of hundred eggs that stick to the underside of tomato plant leaves before hatching into larvae that bore through every last part of the plant, destroying it and making fruits pockmarked and inedible. This is not such a big deal for backyard gardeners, but it is a huge problem for tomato farms, where the moth’s larvae have reduced crop yield by 80 to 100 percent in some places.
Though invasive pests like this moth don’t really care where they proliferate, as long as their preferred host plant is in abundance, a new study published in the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences shows that they are likely to have a much bigger effect on developing countries than on wealthier ones. Read more.