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

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

This Caterpillar is dark brown or black with white speckles, and an orange blotch each side of each segment. It has two eye-spots each side of the abdomen behind the thorax. When threatened, it curls its head under exposing the eye-spots, and at the same time lifting its tail.

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

The caterpillars feed on various plants, including:

  • Coral Tree ( Erythrina crista-galli, FABACEAE ),
  • Pearl Vine ( Sarcopetalum harveyanum, MENISPERMACEAE ),
  • Prickly Tape Vine ( Echinostephia aculeata, MENISPERMACEAE ),
  • Tape Vine ( Stephania japonica, MENISPERMACEAE ), and
  • Snake Vine ( Tinospora smilacina, MENISPERMACEAE ).

    (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.

    (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.

    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.

    (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 Asia and the south-west Pacific, for example:

  • Hawaii,
  • New Caledonia,
  • New Guinea,
  • New Zealand,
  • Thailand,

    as well as in Australia in:

  • Western Australia.
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland, and
  • New South Wales.

    (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 proboscis in order to suck the juice. The moth feeds at night, and attacks unripe as well as ripe fruit, for example :

  • Bananas,
  • Lychees. and
  • Longans.

    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)

    Pest sprays are of no avail for this pest, as the moths do not die rapidly enough to prevent them from damaging the fruit. Control may be possible using :

  • various low tech methods,
  • the fly Winthemia caledoniae ( TACHINIDAE ),
  • the ectoparasitoid wasp Euplectrus maternus ( EULOPHIDAE ),
  • the egg-parasitoid wasp Telenomus lucullus ( SCELIONIDAE ), and
  • the egg-parasitoid wasp Ooencyrtus papilionis ( ENCYRTIDAE ).

    Eudocima fullonia
    Vanuatu, 1987

    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,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 67 (December 2012), pp. 1, 4-9,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    John Lahey & Peter Hendry,
    You Asked,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club Newsletter,
    Issue 48 (March 2008), p. 25.

    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, 10 April 2016)