Phthorimaea operculella

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Potato tuber moth
Phthorimaea operculella dorsal.jpg
Dorsal view
Phthorimaea operculella ventral.jpg
Ventral view
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Gelechiidae
Subfamily: Gelechiinae
Tribe: Gnorimoschemini
Genus: Phthorimaea
Species: P. operculella
Binomial name
Phthorimaea operculella
(Zeller, 1873)
  • Gelechia terrella Walker, 1864
  • Gelechia operculella Zeller, 1873
  • Gnorimoschema operculella
  • Gelechia sedata Butler, 1880
  • Parasia sedata
  • Bryotropha solanella Boisduval, 1874
  • Gelechia tabacella Ragonot, 1879
  • Gelechia piscipellis Howard, 1897
  • Phthorimaea argentinae Povolný, 1989

Phthorimaea operculella, also known as the potato tuber moth or tobacco splitworm, is a major pest on potatoes in New Zealand and South Africa. It has a worldwide distribution.


The body length is about 10mm and the wingspan is about 12mm. The larva is called potato tuberworm.

In South Africa, the spider Selenops radiatus has proved to be an effective controlling agent for this species. The wasp Diadegma mollipla, which exists in South Africa, is a parasite of the moth's larvae.[1]

The potato tuberworm is becoming a pest in North Carolina. It seems to be interchangeable in the Solanaceae family. In tobacco, the larvae are leaf miners and can cause severe damage to leaves, making them weigh less.

An older synonym is Bryotropha solanella, where solanella indicates its host, the potato (Solanum tuberosum).


  1. ^ "Diadegma mollipla (Holmgren)". Retrieved 2013-09-16.