Banana fruit caterpillar

Scientific name

Tiracola plagiata

Description of adult

Adults are medium to large moths measuring 50–60mm across the wings. The darker forewings are dull grey-brown in colour with a dark brown V-shaped area on the fore margins. The hind wings are uniform light brown-grey.

Immature stages

The drab grey-brown larvae have 2 pairs of black marks on the top of the body and grow to about 60mm when fully grown. There are 2 of black markings on the rear dorsal surface.

Life history

There are 6 larval instars totaling about 6 weeks. Pupation occurs in secluded areas among trash at the base of plants and takes about 4 weeks. The total life cycle takes about 3 months.


Outbreaks of the pest have been confined to south-eastern Queensland.

Host range

Extensive host range. Bananas and citrus are the main commercial crops affected.


Minor and sporadic. Usually attack bunches on the edges of a plantation, near scrub or rainforest.

Larvae feed on both foliage and fruit. Large larvae feed deep into the fruit while smaller, younger larvae feed on the rind of immature fruit causing irregular-shaped brown patches of damage to exposed fruit surfaces. The damage is more severe and visible than that caused by the banana scab moth-damage that tends to be shallower and confined to the underside of the fruit where it joins the bunch stalk. Because of their large size, 1 or 2 larvae can destroy all the fruit on the bunch.


Examine bunches on 100 trees in known hot spot areas of the crop. Spray if more than 5 out of 100 bunches are infested. Bunches in rows adjacent to native vegetation are usually more at risk and treatment should be directed to these areas.


No specific controls are usually required since bunch treatments to control sugar cane bud moth and rust thrips provide adequate control of banana fruit caterpillar.

Chemical registrations and permits

Check the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority database for chemicals registered or approved under permit to treat this pest on the target crop in your location. Always read the label and observe withholding periods.