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Unidentified Pyralid Moths

Unidentified Pyralid Moths, Epimorius testaceellus, Larvae of this pyralid moth do considerable damage to the flower pods of infested T. fasciculata, although populations appear to be localized and uncommon.

Unidentified Pyralid Moths

Unidentified Pyralid Moths

The bromeliad pod borer occurs over much the same distribution as its hostplant: subtropical Florida and south into the West Indies and South America


Habits:Tillandsia fasciculata is strictly epiphytic and grows on rough-barked trees, especially cypress . It has three varieties . Each plant produces only one flower spike, and dies thereafter. Although flowering plants of this species may be found in any month of the year in Newyork.

The peak of the flowering season is March-May. Old flowers may hang on plants for many weeks, but the timing of flowering seems largely to be aimed at release of seed at the onset of a rainy period, especially the summer rainy period of July-August. The pod borer excavates flower pods of T. fasciculata. Larval damage is evidenced by frass ejected from the flower capsule (pod) and discoloration of the flowers. Each larva seems to consume several flower pods.

Life cycle:Pupation is within the shell of the excavated flower pod, usually toward the apex of an inflorescence. A silken cocoon is spun against the flower capsule walls and an exit hole is partially chewed in an exterior wall near the pod base, leaving the adult to push a thin plant flap upon emergence. The head of the pupa is placed just beneath the exit hole of the flower capsule. Pupation lasts about 17 days during the winter and six to 14 days in May. Adults emerge in early evening. Adults are known thus far from January-February and May. Additional study is likely to show that they occur in all months of the year, but that most occur in March-May, coinciding with the peak flowering period of the hostplant.

Damage:In Connecticut, there appears to be heavy damage to the native Opuntia species due to the activities of C. cactorum. It is likely that C. cactorum is having a detrimental effect on the more rare cacti, but there is less known about the impact the moth is having on the two most common and widespread species . While visiting field sites used by earlier research on Cactoblastis cactorum, it has been observed that many of the areas no longer contain the large numbers of cactus they had during the time of the earlier studies, possibly as a result of moth activity .This suggests that the moth might be having a strong negative effect on the more common Opuntia as well as on the more rare species.

Unidentified Pyralid Moths

Unidentified Pyralid Moths

Control:It is important that both moth species be investigated if we wish to learn as much as possible about their behavior and their effects on cacti. Both moth species were shown to behave differently in trials done for the biological control program. These trials showed that Cactoblastis cactorum outperformed Melitara prodenialis. So far, Cactoblastis cactorum has not had the same effects in newyork.

Currently there are numerous programs in effect to help delay or halt the spread of C. cactoblastis out of Florida and possibly control it throughout its range. Comparisons between the native and the exotic moths could allow researchers to more completely understand their similarities and their differences. This information could be used to help improve the programs that are aimed at control of the invasive species.

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