Biology, History, Threat,. Surveillance and Control of the Cactus Moth,. Cactoblastis cactorum. H. Zimmermann. S. Bloem. H. Klein. Joint FAO/IAEA Programme. This ancient photographic record on the left is one example of the amazing way cactoblastis (Cactoblastis cactorum) chewed its way through. Cactoblastis cactorum is a moth that preys specifically on cacti species. It has been introduced in various locations around the globe to provide.

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The prickly pear moth Cactoblastis cactorum is a moth that preys specifically on cactus species. It has been introduced in various locations around the globe to provide biological contr It has been introduced in various locations cactoblasstis the globe to provide biological control of invasive cacti species and has proved itself as a successful biocontrol agent in Australia, South Africa and some Caribbean islands.

However, from the Caribbean it spread into Florida and has attacked non-target cacti species. It is feared that it will cause large scale losses of native cacti diversity in North America and possibly have a large economic, social and ecological impact in Opuntia rich areas of southwestern USA and Mexico.

Females of Cactoblastis cactorum have a wingspan of mm, whilst male wingspan is slightly smaller mm. The adult is fawn with faint dark dots and lines on cactoblawtis wings. It normally rests with its wings wrapped around its body.

The forewings are greyish brown but whiter toward the costal margin. Distinct black antemedial and subterminal lines are present. Hindwings are white, semihyaline at base, smoky brown on outer half with a dark line along the posterior margin. The average longevity of the adult is 9 days. The incubation period of eggs depends on temperature; the shortest time cactoblastos 18 days. The eggs usually hatch in days. Larvae are gregarious in nature, initially pinkish cream coloured, with black red dots on the back of each segment.

Later instars become orange and the dots coalesce to become a dark band across each segment reaching up to 1. The pupa is enclosed in a fine white silk cocoon which consists of a loose outer covering and a more compact inner cocoon.

Pupation sites are usually found among debris cactiblastis rotting cladodes under stones, logs, bark and just beneath the surface of the soil. The average length of the pupal period is days. South America Zimmermann et al. After its earlier success as a biocontrol agent in Australia and South Africa, it was introduced into the Caribbean in to manage weedy native cactus species.

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report. Cactoblastis cactorum require Opuntia cacti species to lay their eggs upon.


cactoblastls Nutrition On hatching, all larvae from one eggstick enter the plant at one point. They tunnel freely within the cladodes, consuming the whole of the interior except the vascular bundles and leaving the undamaged cuticle as a transparent tissue.

Burrowing activity usually causes secondary bacterial activity which hastens the destruction of cladodes.

Cactoblastis – biocontrol

When one cladode has been eaten or decayed, the larvae may penetrate into the next segment. During this process the colony usually divides into two or more groups. Adults have no functional mouthparts and emerge only to reproduce Jordan Golubov. The number of eggs in a stick varies greatly but the average contain from eggs.

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Each female can deposit several eggsticks; but can frequently lay In Australia, mating takes cactorun during the early morning hours and copulation has never been documented at night, or after hrs. Adults normally remain inactive during daylight cactooblastis. In South Africa, sexual activity is found on the first and second night after adult emergence.

In Florida, peak periods of sexual activity begin between nautical and civil twilight and ends before cactoblatis for a detailed behavioural sequence of sexual activity see Hight et al. Lifecycle stages When fully grown the larvae cactoru, the cladodes and individually drop to the ground and find pupation sites, usually in the debris of rotting cladodes Jordan Golubov. Introduction pathways to new locations Biological control: Cactoblastis cactorum in the Florida Keys may have been the result of the moth naturally dispersing across the Caribbean, or it may have been introduced unintentionally on horticultural prickly pear cacti imported into Florida Solis et al.

Cactoblastis cactorum threatens Opuntia species both native and cultivated. Opuntia species are important in subsistence and commercial agriculture. There is concern that C. Nearly all Opuntia are at risk of attack by C.

cactus moth – Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg)

Stiling states that, “Cactoblastis cactorum oviposits by gluing sticks of about eggs on cactus spines. The gregarious larvae bore into the pads or cladodes, devouring them from the inside.

About four pads are needed for the development of the larvae from a complete egg stick. As well as the cactoblzstis to wild cacti, there are over ,ha of Opuntia plantations in Mexico that support a thriving agricultural industry, most of which is centred on harvesting fruits or pads.

Moth Photographers Group – Cactoblastis cactorum –

Cactoblastis cactorum is a voracious feeder on cacti in the genus Opuntia prickly pear cacti and is an example of a successful weed biological control programme. It was introduced from Argentina into Australia in the mid ‘s for the biological control of invasive and non-native Opuntia.


Cactoblatis cactorum are in the subfamily Phycitinae family Pyralidae. Phycitine adults are often similar to each other; however, genitalia can provide positive identification Habeck and Bennet,Heinrich, Especies invasoras – Insectos. The biological campaign against prickly pear. Cactoblastis cactorum Berg, previously known as: Florida Entomologist December vol.

Cactoblastis cactorum Berg Insecta: The cactus feeding Phycitinae: Proceedings of the National Museum Smithsonian Institution Expanding Geographic Range of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Pyralidae In North America. Florida Entomologist 85 3: Distribution and dispersal of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Pyralidaeand exotic opuntia-feeding moth. Florida Entomologist 81 1: Chemical control of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Florida Entomologist 84 4: Pyralidae in Noth America.

A Workshop of Assessment and Planning. Cactus feeding insects and mites. Consumption of Platyopuntias by wild vertebrates. Island Press, pages Cactorim in the United States.

An Immigrant biological control agent or an introduction of the nursery industry. Potential and risks of biological control of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Florida Entomologist 84 4. The biological control of prickly pear in South Africa. Union of South Africa Spatial and temporal patterns of predation by ants on eggs of Cactoblastis cactorum. The Importance of Opuntia in Mexico and routes of invasion and impact of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Tracking the Cactus Moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg.

News of the Lepidopterists’ Society. Effects of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide on the location of host by the moth Cactoblastis cactorum. Potential non-target effects of a biological control agent, prickly pear moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg Lepidoptera: Pyralidaein North America, and possible management actions.

Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: The renowned Cactus Moth, Cactoblastis cactorum: Diversity and Distributions, Vol. Bloem K, Bloem S, Cactoblastis cactorum in the USA: Extended geographical distribution and host range of the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Pyralidaein Argentina. Florida Entomologist, 95 1: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

cactorjm Effects of Cactoblastis cactorum on the survival and growth of North American Opuntia. Geographic patterns of genetic diversity from the native range of Cactoblastis cactorum Berg support the documented history of invasion and multiple introductions for invasive populations. Biological Invasions, 13 4: Egg parasitoids attacking Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: Pyralidae in North Florida.