Mocis frugalis Fabricius, 1775
Sugarcane Looper
(one synonym : Chalciope lycopodia Geyer, 1837)
CATOCALINAE ,   NOCTUIDAE ,   NOCTUOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of J.R. Agnew, Australian Sugarcane Pests, Bureau of the Sugar Experiment Stations, Indooroopilly)

These Caterpillars are pale green or brown, with vague stripes, and with a black band behind the thorax. They are missing a pair of prolegs, and so they move in a looper fashion.

The caterpillars are an agricultural pest on:

  • Oats ( Avena species, POACEAE ),
  • Rice ( Oryza sativa, POACEAE ),
  • Sugar Cane ( Saccharum officinarum, POACEAE ), and
  • various Grasses ( POACEAE ).

    The caterpillars pupate in a cocoon in a twisted leaf.

    The adult moth is brown with a variable diagonal dark line with a pale edge across each forewing. The wingspan is about 4 cms.

    The adult females appear to have hairy fans beside the head which can be opened.


    female with fans extended
    (Photo: courtesy of John Stumm)

    These fans probably to disperse pheromones to attract males.


    close up of the fans
    (Photo: courtesy of John Stumm)

    The species is found across Asia and the Pacific, including :

  • Cook Islands,
  • India,

    as well as in Australia in

  • Christmas Island,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • Norfolk Island, and
  • New South Wales.


    (Specimen: courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney)

    A similar species, Mocis proverai that has been confused with Mocis frugalis, is found in the Middle East and Africa. It differs mainly in the genitalia.


    Further reading :

    J.R. Agnew (ed.),
    Australian Sugarcane Pests,
    Bureau of the Sugar Experiment Stations (Indooroopilly) 1997, pp. 54-55.

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pp. 65, 452.

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    VI Glossata, Noctua,
    Systema Entomologiae,
    Flensburgi et Lipsiae : Kortii xxxii, p. 601, No. 45.

    Buck Richardson,
    Mothology,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2008, pp. 5, 25.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 144.


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    (updated 21 September 2008, 1 December 2016)