Economic and financial model to the mass-rearing of Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur) (Heteroptera: Miridae), a biological control agent against the tomato moth Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in protected culture

Dutra, T.M., Batista, M.G., Teixeira, J.C.A., Todorova, S., Oliveira, L., Tavares, J., Borges, I. & Soares, A.O. (2023) Economic and financial model to the mass-rearing of Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur) (Heteroptera: Miridae), a biological control agent against the tomato moth Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) in protected culture.

Pest Management Science, 79(10), 3712-3720. DOI:10.1002/ps.7552 (IF2022 4,1; Q1 Entomology)
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  • Jun, 2023



Tuta absoluta (Meyrick) is a major pest of tomato produced in glasshouses and open field, causing severe damages to crops, reducing the quality of tomato fruits. The current maintenance of the pest populations below the economic threshold is not achieved by natural and classical control, thus requiring the continuous application of biological control agents (BCAs), under an augmentative or inoculative approach. The present study aims to develop an economic and financial model to evaluate the commercial viability of a continuous mass production of Macrolophus pygmaeus (Rambur), a BCA commonly used against the tomato moth, Tuta absoluta, in protected culture. The estimations for our model were based on two approaches: the farm-level impact analysis and the benefit–cost analysis.


The results of the farm-level analysis show that the adoption of a more sustainable biological control approach is profitable for farmers and the benefit–cost analysis provides evidence that the investment on a new factory dedicated to the mass rearing of M. pygmaeus to control tomato moth populations generates a positive net present value (NPV) of 7.2 million euros, corresponding to an internal rate of return (IRR) of 28.4% per year.


Our results are in line with (i) the more recent European Commission proposals for a new Regulation on sustainable use of plant protection products, which includes the reduction of 50% the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030 and (ii) most of the existing literature which conclude that new projects on BCA production are worth investments. © 2023 The Authors. Pest Management Science published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society of Chemical Industry.