Plant Parasites of Europe

leafminers, galls and fungi

Phthorimaea operculella

Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller, 1873)

potato tuber moth

on Solanaceae

Phthorimaea operculella mines

Solanum nigrum, Canary Islands, El Hierro


Oviposition is in the ground; larvae therefore have to search and mount a host plant. Large, glassy, irregular blotches without a recognisable preceding corridor. Frass in a black mass, mainly in the oldest part of the mine. The larvae move several times, and can also bore in the stem and underground parts.

host plants

Solanaceae, oligophagous

Capsicum; Hyoscyamus albus; Lycium europaeum; Lycopersicon esculentum; Nicotiana glauca, tabacum; Solanum dulcamara, melongena, nigrum, tuberosum, villosum.


Larvae in July – September (Bland ao, Britain, 2002a); several generations per year in warmer regions.


BE recorded (Phegea, 2009).

NE recorded (Kuchlein & de Vos, 1999a;, 2009).

LUX not recorded (Fauna Europaea, 2009).

distribution within Europe

All Europe south of the line Ireland – Southern Russia (Fauna Europaea, 2009). Originally a Neotropical species.


Described by Patočka & Turčáni (2005a).


Gelechia operculella.


Everywhere in the tropics and subtropics, including the Mediterranean Region, a serious pest on potato, to a lesser degree also tobacco. The main damage is caused by damaging the potato tubers.


Aguiar & Karsholt (2006a), Bella & Karsholt (2015a), Bidzilya, Karsholt, Kravchenko & Šumpich (2019a), Biesenbaum (2000b), Bland, Corley, Emmet ao (2002a), Elsner, Huemer & Tokár (1999a), Gómez de Aizpúrua (2003a), Hering (1927a, 1936b, 1957a), Huemer & Karsholt (2010a), Huemer & Mayr (2000a), Huertas Dionisio (2007a), Klimesch (1984a), Kovács & Kovács (1999a), Kuchlein & Donner (1993a), Kuchlein & de Vos (1999a), Langmaid & Young (2009a), Patočka & Turčáni (2005a), De Prins (1998a), De Prins & Steeman (2011a), De Prins, Steeman & Sierens (2016a), Requena (2009a), Rivera & Burrack (2012a), van Roosmalen, Wijker & Knijnsberg (2013a), Stehr (1987a), Swezey (1944a), Szőcs (1977a), Vieira, Borges, Karsholt & Wunderlich (2003a).

Last modified 4.xii.2023