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 biological campaign against prickly pear. Rafinesque, as well as exotic species, either naturalized or grown as ornamentals, in Florida are also at risk.

It was introduced from Argentina into Australia in the mid ‘s for the biological control of invasive and non-native Opuntia. Union of South Africa Island Press, pages Bycactoblastis was approved for release.

Proceedings of the National Museum Smithsonian Institution Opuntia ficus-indica prickly pear ; Cactoblastis cactorum larvae infesting a prickly cacforum cladode.

It still plays a minor role in controlling tiger pear and common pear see image, right. Adults normally remain inactive during daylight hours.

issg Database: EcologieCactoblastis cactorum

In South Africa, Cactoblastis cactorum is controlled in commercial Opuntia ficus-indica stands by removing the conspicuous egg sticks from the plant Zimmerman et al. Distribution and dispersal of Cactoblastis cactorum Lepidoptera: They then enter their cocoon stage. There is still much to be learned about Cactoblastis cactorum.


The incubation period of eggs depends on temperature; the shortest time being 18 days. Cactoblastis and its novel hosts have had only a short evolutionary history, and the moth probably has not had a chance to adapt to its new host plants.

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

Introduction of Cactoblastis cactorum (“cactus moth”) in Australia | Environment & Society Portal

This database compiles information on alien species from British Overseas Territories. Slightly smaller, and a paler version of cactoblastis, Tucamania tapiacola was introduced cactkrum Australia in for biological control of tiger pear Dodd 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.

In eastern Australia, there are usually two 2 complete generations per year.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. In Australia, mating takes place during the early morning hours and copulation has never been documented at night, or after hrs. Ecological Threat As ofthe cactus moth has not been reported in Texas. Hindwings are white, semihyaline at base, smoky brown on outer half with a dark line along the posterior margin.

One of the best hosts for offspring survival and development, Opuntia streptacantha, cactob,astis one of the least preferred by females. The larvae of Cactoblastis cactorum are bright orange-red with large dark spots forming transverse bands.

Texas Invasive Species Institute

In these desert regions, wild Opuntia and Cylindropuntia Engelmann Kreuzinger species provide cactormu and nesting sites for a variety of wildlife and contribute to soil stability Chavez-Ramirez et al. Damage from Cactoblastis cactorum.


The life cycle of Cactoblastis cactorum goes through four 4 stages: The gregarious larvae bore cactoruum the cactus pad through a single entry hole by chewing through the tough outer cuticle of the cladode. In South America, Cactoblastis cactorum has many natural predators, including ants and New World monkeys.

Cactoblastis – biocontrol

The biological control of cactus weeds: However, from the Caribbean it spread into Florida and has attacked non-target cacti species. Retrieved 27 September 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. Potential non-target effects of a biological control agent, prickly pear moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg Lepidoptera: Environmental Assessment October When the cages topple they can knock over and kill the cacti inside.

Several ecological studies on the host cacti and the natural enemies are in progress. Description Adult cactus moths are non-descript, gray-brown moths with faint dark spots and wavy transverse lines marking the wings.