Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Zeller, 1839)
(one synonym : Myelois oporedestella Dyar, 1911)
Carob Moth
PHYCITINI ,   PHYCITINAE ,   PYRALIDAE

Don Herbison-Evans ( donherbisonevans@yahoo.com )
&
Stella Crossley

Ectomyelois ceratoniae
Caterpillar and its damage to a Pomegranate
(Photo: courtesy of Dr. Sean Moore, Citrus Research International, Port Elizabeth, South Africa)

These caterpillars are a translucent white colour, with the internal organs visible from the outside. The caterpillars are a considerable agricultural pest on:

  • Pomegranates ( Punica granatum , LYTHRACEAE ),
  • Citrus fruit of various types: e.g. Lemon, Orange ( RUTACEAE ),
  • Pistachio Nuts ( Pistacia vera, ANACARDIACEAE ),
  • Walnuts ( Juglans regia, JUGLANACEAE ),
  • Almonds ( Prunus dulcis, ROSACEAE ),
  • Macadamia Nuts ( Macadamia integrifolia, PROTEACEAE ),
  • Dates ( Phoenix dactylifera, ARECACEAE ), and of course
  • Carob pods ( Ceratonia siliqua, FABACEAE ).

    The adult moths have forewings with a pale brown pattern, and plain white hindwings. The female moths find suitable fruit or nuts on which to lay their eggs using volatile substances emitted by fungus which is infecting the material.

    The species is found world-wide, for example:

  • Cyprus,
  • Jamaica,
  • Tunisia,
  • USA,

    and in Australia, having being introduced by unfortunate accident, into

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria,
  • South Australia, and
  • Western Australia.

    Various compounds have been identified for:

  • stimulating upwind flight,
  • oviposition, as well as
  • sex attraction.

    Control is being attempted using :

  • pheromones for mating disruption,
  • a wasp Trichogramma species ( TRICHOGRAMMATIDAE ),
  • the wasp Habrobracon hebetor ( BRACONIDAE ),
  • the wasp Phanerotoma flavitestacea ( BRACONIDAE ), and
  • the wasp Bracon lactus ( BRACONIDAE ), and
  • the wasp Pristomerus vulnerator ( ICHNEUMONIDAE ).

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    (updated 5 September 2009, 18 October 2013)