Sugarcane Stem Borer
(one synonym : Nonagria exitiosa Olliff, 1893)
ACRONICTINAE , NOCTUIDAE , NOCTUOIDEA
(Photo: courtesy of Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Bundaberg, Queensland)
These Caterpillars are pale pink or purple, with black spots. They bore into the stems of their foodplants, leaving a smelly messy feacal matter in the hole as they go. They will often move from stem to stem as they destroy a shoot on which they have been feeding.
The caterpillars are an agricultural pest, attacking a variety of plants from the family POACEAE, including:
as well as various grasses, such as:
The caterpillars have even been reported to attack:
They grow to a length of about 4 cms.
They pupate in the tunnel they have bored. The pupae have a length of about 2 cms. The pupal stage last for about 12 days in summer.
The adult moth is beige, with some dark dots, and a narrow dark line from base to mid-margin on each forewing.
The female moths lay about 600 eggs, in clusters under the edges of leaves of foodplants. The eggs hatch in about eight days.
The species is found over most of Australia, including
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia,
Melbourne University Press 1990, p. 462.
J.R. Agnew (ed.),
Australian Sugarcane Pests,
Bureau of the Sugar Experiment Stations,
Indooroopilly: 1997, pp. 42-43.
Catalogue of Lepidoptera Heterocera,
List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
Part 9 (1856), p. 111, No. 79.
(updated 1 July 2010)