Ectomyelois ceratoniae (Zeller, 1839)
Carob Moth
(one synonym : Myelois oporedestella Dyar, 1911)
PHYCITINAE ,   PYRALIDAE ,   PYRALOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
( donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
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.

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

The caterpillars are a considerable agricultural pest on:

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


    (Photo: courtesy of CSIRO/BIO Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, University of Guelph)

    The adult moths have forewings with a brown pattern including a faint dark diagonal line across each forewing. The hindwings are plain white.

    The species is found world-wide, for example:

  • Cyprus,
  • Iran,
  • Iraq,
  • Jamaica,
  • Tunisia,

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

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

    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. Various other compounds have been identified for this species for:

  • stimulating upwind flight,
  • pheromones for sex attraction.

    Control of this pest species is being attempted using :

  • mass rearing of irradiated sterile males,
  • pheromones for mating disruption,
  • the wasp Trichogramma cacoeciae ( TRICHOGRAMMATIDAE ),
  • the wasp Habrobracon hebetor ( BRACONIDAE ),
  • the wasp Phanerotoma flavitestacea ( BRACONIDAE ), and
  • the wasp Apanteles lacteus ( BRACONIDAE ), and
  • the wasp Pristomerus vulnerator ( ICHNEUMONIDAE ).


    Further reading :

    Philipp C. Zeller,
    Versuch einer naturgemäßen Eintheilung der Schaben,
    Isis von Oken, Jena, Volume 3 (1839), p. 176, No. 7.


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    (updated 5 September 2009, 9 March 2017)