Cactus Moth (Cactoblastis cactorum)
The cactus moth is most well known as a pest to all forms of the prickly pear cacti. It is a member of the snout moth family and originated from South America. Argentinian entomologist Carlos Berg first described this species in 1885.
- Family: Pyralidae
- Genus: Cactoblastis
- Scientific Name: Cactoblastis cactorum
Description and Identification
The larvae begin as pink-cream, eventually turning bright orange-red marked with black spots or bands. The full-grown larva can reach up to 25-30 mm in length.
Once mature, the caterpillars go underground to pupate.
Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.
Color and Appearance:
Forewing: When opened, they are grayish brown, marked with wavy lines and dark spots. When closed, the color and pattern remain unchanged, though fewer lines and spots are visible.
Hindwing: When opened, the semi-permanent hindwings appear whitish. When closed, the wings are barely visible.
Average Wingspan: 27–40 mm (females); 23–32 mm (males)
Flight Pattern: Erratic
Season: Dry periods starting from June
Females lay their eggs in the form of an “egg stick” that looks similar to a cactus’ spine and contains 30-50 eggs.
|Native: South America, including Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay Invasive: Australia, India, Hawaii, South Africa, and some Caribbean islands
|Lifespan of Adults
|Females: 9 days
Males: 11 days
|Ants, parasitic wasps, and New World monkeys
|Prickly pear cacti
|Does not feed
Did You Know
- Though a pest in most parts of the world it is found in, this moth is considered an important biological control agent in Australia, keeping the prickly pear population down.