Eudocima phalonia is a serious adult pest of ripe and ripening fruits for a wide range of fruits.
The adult moth flies at night and sucks out the juices of fruits with its proboscis. The fruit doesn’t have to be fully ripe as long as its skin is soft enough to be pierced by the moth.
A brown, circular, rotten area develops round the tiny puncture hole and the fruit is ruined for commercial sale.
The Mango fruit-piercing moth attacks a wide range of fruit and vegetable crops.
Fruit crops attacked include apples, apricots, bananas, guava, kiwifruit, mandarins, mangoes, oranges, papaya, passion fruit, peaches, plums.
Vegetable crops attacked include tomatoes and melons.
After emerging from the pupa, females have a preoviposition period of 4 to 8 days before they begin to lay their eggs, and each female can lay up to 750 eggs during her lifetime.
Eggs are mostly laid on the underside of the leaves and hatch into larvae after a short while. There are 5 larval stages/instars, separated by 4 moults. After each moult, the discarded skins are eaten by the newly emerged caterpillars.
Mature larvae pupate within a cocoon spun between leaves and woven together with silk. The leaves containing the cocoon may remain on the host plant or dry and fall to the ground. Pupation lasts for 14 to 21 days, but if it occurs under very dry conditions the adult may not be able to emerge successfully.
The duration of the life cycle from egg to egg-laying adult female is 35 to 49 days.
When moth populations are low, a single female moth lays her eggs in batches of up to 100 while with high populations eggs are laid in batches of several hundred eggs by individual females.
Females live for 27 to 30 days and males 26 to 28 days.
Generations are continuous throughout the year.
Eggs; they are small and hemispherical, about 1 mm in diameter and yellowish green. Eggs are generally laid on the underside of leaves but may be found on the bark or on other plants nearby.
Larvae; the caterpillars are cylindrical in shape, 1/5 to 1/3 inch long during the first larval stage and reach up to two inches in length when fully grown. They have eight pairs of legs – three pairs under the thorax, four pairs in the middle portion of the abdomen (the first of which is rudimentary), and the last pair at the end of the abdomen. The last segment is considerably humped a feature that develops during the second instar. They are either dark green to black or pale. The dark coloration occurs when larval densities are high, and the light coloured larvae are found with isolated larvae .On the second and third abdominal segments, there are paired, lateral markings resembling eyes and on the upper surface of the body, they have numerous small creamy-white spots and bars edged with black that tend to coalesce in some places.
Pupae; they are very dark brown with a purplish cast about 28 mm long.
Adults; the adult moth is large and robust. It has a wingspan of almost 10 cm and a stout body, about 5 cm long that does not extend, or slightly extends, beyond the hindwings. The eyes are large. The area behind the head of the moth, the thorax, is pale to purple-brown and the abdomen is pale brown at the base brightening to yellow-orange at the tip. The forewings resemble a leaf by being olive to purple-brown and may have white and green coloured flecks (the coloured flecks are more common on females).
This leaf-like appearance of the forewings makes this moth difficult to see when it is at rest, especially, because the bright hindwings are not visible. The outer edges of the female’s forewings are scalloped or toothed while those of the males are evenly curved. The hindwings are bright orange, have a black comma-shaped mark and are fringed by a black border with white dots.
For most moth and butterfly pests, the caterpillars are the damaging stage. However, the Mango fruit-piercing moth differs in this aspect because it is the adult moth that is the damaging stage, and the larvae are essentially not harmful.
The mouth parts of the moth are about an inch long and strong enough to penetrate through tough-skinned fruit. Once the moth has punctured the skin of the fruit, a process that usually takes a few seconds, it feeds upon the juices of the fruit.
Feeding occurs at night and the fruit does not have to be ripe to be fed upon by this moth. Fruit flesh damaged by this moth becomes soft and mushy differing from fruit damaged by fruit flies which is more liquid.
Damage caused by this pest is not only a result of the direct feeding of this moth but also by the fungal and bacterial infections that develop at the wound site.
The moth is also a known vector of Oospora citri, a fungus that rots the fruit and has a penetrating odour that attracts this moth. Other microorganisms that gain entrance into the fruit and cause rotting include Fusarium sp., Colletotrichum sp. and several types of bacteria.
When the population of the moths is high, green fruits are attacked, causing premature ripening and dropping of fruits. On oranges, a green fruit turns yellow at the site of the piercing and fungi soon develop within the wound
Incidence of damage by this moth is normally low, however when outbreaks occur, most of the crop is affected.
The following insecticides are effective in managing the fruit piercing moth, and should be alternated in order to prevent the pest from developing resistance against either of them.
- LEXUS 247SC 8ml/20l
- KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20l
- PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l
- SINOPHATE 750SP 20g/20l
- PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20l
- PROFILE 440EC 30ml/20l
- BACIGUARD 16000WDG 15g/20l
- TRUMPET 200SC 25ml/20l
- LEGACY 50EC 15ml/20l
- Practise crop rotation with non-host plants
- Intercropping minimizes the population of the pest
- Ensure proper weed control
- Maintain field sanitation
- Timely management of the pest is very crucial.
- Whenever doing foliar spray, it is recommended that insecticides be mixed with INTEGRA 3ml/20l. This is a spreader, sticker and penetrant, which increases the efficacy of the product.