Fruit piercing moth
Description of adult
There are 3 widely occurring species of fruit piercing moth:
- Eudocima salaminia
- E. fullonia, E. jordani
- E. materna.
The adult moths are large and stout-bodied, with a wingspan of 100mm. The forewings can be mainly brown, cream or green. Hind wings are yellow orange, with black patches and spots.
Larvae are velvety-black. The larvae of Eudocima spp. have 2 large spots (mainly white with dark centres) on either side of the body just before the first pair of prolegs.
Larva feed on native vines for about 3 weeks, progressing through 5 or 6 stages, or instars, before forming a dark-brown pupa in a delicate silk cocoon between webbed leaves. After 2.5 weeks adults emerge from the pupa. Breeding occurs through most of the year in northern Queensland, although it is much reduced during the dry season. In drier areas such as central Queensland, outbreaks are more common in wet years that are favourable to continuous growth of the larval-host vines.
Fruit piercing moths are found on the east coast of Australia, north from the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales. A few species also occur across the north of the continent. It is believed that they die out in areas south of Mackay and Rockhampton in cold winters and reinvade the southern areas after winter.
These moths feed on carambola, banana, citrus, fig, guava, kiwifruit, longan lychee, mango, stonefruit, persimmon and ripening papaya.
Larval hosts include native vines of the family Menispermaceae (of which there are about 20 species in northern Queensland). The preferred species are Tinospora smilacina and Stephania spp.
Major and sporadic. Several genera of noctuid moths are fruit piercing but the most damaging are Eudocima fullonia, E. materna, E. jordani and E. salaminia.
Moths feed at night by penetrating the skin of the ripe or ripening fruit with their strong proboscis and sucking the juice. Internal injury consists of a bruised, dry area beneath the skin. Secondary rots develop at the puncture site. Secondary-moth feeders often visit fermenting fruit, taking advantage of the access holes the fruitpiercing moths drill. Early summer to early autumn is the most important period.
Not determined, but would depend on individual fruit value. Nightly inspections with a strong torch are recommended when fruit is nearing maturity. The red eyes of the moths will reflect the light from a torch, aiding detection.
Netting trees or bagging fruits is very effective. Early harvest, where it doesn't jeopardise maturity standards, will help to reduce losses.
Several native parasitic wasps are known but have limited impact during summer.
No satisfactory chemical control measure is known. Hand collection of moths and various traps have had limited success.
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.
- Last reviewed: 19 Oct 2022
- Last updated: 19 Oct 2022