Eudocima fullonia (Clerck, [1874])
Fruit Piercing Moth
also known as Eudocima phalonia (Linnaeus, 1763)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

Eudocima fullonia
(Photo: courtesy of Melissa Macrokanis, Broome, Western Australia)

This Caterpillar varys in colour from orange through brown to black. The caterpillars have white speckles, an orange blotch each side of each segment, and two eye-spots each side of the abdomen behind the thorax.

Eudocima fullonia
(Photo: courtesy of Jurgen Otto, Townsville, Queensland)

When threatened, it curls its head under exposing the eye-spots, and at the same time lifting its tail. Depending on its orientation,you may even see a face with a wry mouth where the true legs are held against the second adbominal segment.

Eudocima fullonia
displaying a face
(Photo: courtesy of Carissa Gill, Kenilworth, Queensland)

The caterpillars feed on various plants in MENISPERMACEAE, including:

  • Prickly Tape Vine ( Echinostephia aculeata ),
  • Round-leaf Vine ( Legnephora moorei ),
  • Pearl Vine ( Sarcopetalum harveyanum ),
  • Tape Vine ( Stephania japonica ), and
  • Snake Vine ( Tinospora smilacina, ),

    and has also been reported on

  • Coral Tree ( Erythrina crista-galli, FABACEAE ).

    Eudocima fullonia
    (Photo: courtesy of Scott Gavins, Fraser Coast, Queensland)

    The adult moths have fawn forewings. The males have a vague pattern of pale and dark patches.

    Eudocima fullonia
    (Photo: courtesy of Jutta Godwin, Cubberla-Witton Catchments Network, Brisbane, Queensland)

    The females have a more complex pattern including a small white triangle near the middle of each forewing, connecting to a pale streak across the wing. The hindwings of both sexes are bright yellow, with a broad dark border and a big dark comma in the middle.

    Eudocima fullonia
    underside (composite photo!)
    (Photo: courtesy of Scott Gavins, Fraser Coast, Queensland)

    The undersides of the forewings of both sexes each have a yellow diagonal band. The undersides of the hindwings are like their upper surfaces.

    Eudocima fullonia
    (Photo: courtesy of Evan Harris, Ipswich, Queensland)

    The labial palps each have a blue patch. The moth has a wingspan of about 9 cms.

    close-up of head showing blue labial palps
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The species occurs in Africa, Asia and the south-west Pacific, for example:

  • Benin,
  • Hawaii,
  • India,
  • Java,
  • Madagascar,
  • New Guinea,
  • Nouvelle-CalÚdonie,
  • Philippines,
  • South Africa,
  • South Korea,
  • Thailand,

    as well as in Australia in:

  • Christmas Island,
  • Western Australia.
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • Lord Howe Island,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria.

    Eudocima fullonia
    (Photo: by Lisa Dart, courtesy of Robert Gotts, Queensland)

    The moth of this species is an agricultural pest, causing damage to any sort of fruit by piercing it with its strong haustellum in order to suck the juice. The moth feeds at night, and attacks unripe as well as ripe fruit, for example :

  • Apple,
  • Citrus,
  • Kiwifruit,
  • Tomato.

    The hole pierced by the moth allows the entry of fungi and other agents which then cause the fruit to rot prematurely.

    Eudocima fullonia
    these moths love fruit
    (Photo: courtesy of Brian Lewin, Bermagui, New South Wales)

    Complete economic control of these pests probably cannot be achieved. Pest sprays are of no avail for this pest, as the moths do not die rapidly enough to prevent them from damaging the fruit. Light traps are useless, as this species is not attracted to light.

    Some control may be possible using :

  • erecting a netted frame over the tree / orchard,
  • keeping the plants and ground free of damaged fruit,
  • growing the plants / trees in a group rather than a long line,
  • various other low tech methods,
  • the fly Winthemia caledoniae ( TACHINIDAE ),
  • the ectoparasitoid wasp Euplectrus maternus ( EULOPHIDAE ),
  • the egg-parasitoid wasp Telenomus lucullus ( SCELIONINAE ), and
  • the egg-parasitoid wasp Ooencyrtus papilionis ( ENCYRTIDAE ).

    Eudocima fullonia
    Vanuatu, 1987
    Eudocima fullonia
    Benin 1980

    Further reading :

    David Carter,
    Butterflies and Moths,
    Collins Eyewitness Handbooks, Sydney 1992, p. 265.

    Carl Alexander Clerck,
    Icones Insect Rariorum,
    Volume 2 (1764), Plate 48, figs. 1-4.

    Ian F. B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 20.8, pp. 65, 449.

    Lois Hughes & John Moss,
    Fruit-piercing Moths - Night Raiders,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 67 (December 2012), pp. 1, 4-9.

    Carl Linnaeus,
    Centuria Insectorum,
    Amoenitates Academicae,
    Volume 6 (1763), p. 411, No. 83.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 136.

    Paul Zborowski & Ted Edwards,
    A Guide to Australian Moths,
    CSIRO Publishing, 2007, p. 196, 199.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 3 December 2012, 27 August 2023)