Fruit Piercing Moth
also known as Eudocima phalonia (Linnaeus, 1763)
CALPINAE, EREBIDAE, NOCTUOIDEA
(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.
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.
The caterpillars feed on various plants in MENISPERMACEAE, including:
and has also been reported on
The adult moths have fawn forewings. The males have a vague pattern of pale and dark patches.
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.
The undersides of the forewings of both sexes each have a yellow diagonal band. The undersides of the hindwings are like their upper surfaces.
The labial palps each have a blue patch. The moth has a wingspan of about 9 cms.
The species occurs in Africa, Asia and the south-west Pacific, for example:
as well as in Australia in:
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 :
The hole pierced by the moth allows the entry of fungi and other agents which then cause the fruit to rot prematurely.
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 :
Further reading :
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,
Issue 67 (December 2012), pp. 1, 4-9.
Volume 6 (1763), p. 411, No. 83.
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.
(updated 3 December 2012, 10 April 2016, 3 July 2020, 18 January 2021)