Sceliodes cordalis (Doubleday, 1843)
Eggfruit Caterpillar
(one synonym : Eretria obsistalis Snellen, 1880)
SPILOMELINAE,   CRAMBIDAE,   PYRALOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley

Sceliodes cordalis
(Photo: Don Herbison-Evans, Sydney, Australia)

These Caterpillars are an agricultural pest on various members of the family SOLANACEAE, tunneling into the stems and fruit of:

  • Tomato ( Lycopersicum esculentum ),
  • Cape Gooseberry ( Physalis edulis ),
  • Poroporo ( Solanum aviculare ),
  • Eggfruit ( Solanum melongena ), and
  • Thorn Apple ( Datura ).

    We found one boring into the stems of

  • Butterfly Ginger ( Hedychium coronarium , ZINGIBERACEAE ).

    It was bright pink, and grew to a length of about 2 cms.

    It pupated in the tunnel it had bored in its food plant.

    Sceliodes cordalis
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The adult is off-white, with brown tips to the fore wings, and a pattern of pale brown blotches.

    Sceliodes cordalis
    (Photo: courtesy of Trevor Jinks, North Burnett, Queensland)

    The moth has a wingspan of about 2 cms. It has a characteristic posture when resting, curling its abdomen over its head.

    Sceliodes cordalis

    The species is found in :

  • New Zealand,

    and over the whole of Australia, including:

  • Norfolk Island,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia.

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

    Attempts to control the pest include using:

  • its pheromones,
  • a Microsporidian,
  • an extract of Bacillus thuringiensis, and
  • a Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus.

    Sceliodes cordalis
    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Graeme Cocks, Townsville, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 9.16, pp. 66, 358.

    Edward Doubleday,
    with Adam White :
    List of the annulose animals hitherto recorded as found in New Zealand with descriptions of some new species,
    in: Ernest Dieffenbach,
    Travels in New Zealand,
    John Murray, London 1843, Volume 2, p. 288, No. 128.

    Peter Hendry,
    A Night at Ray's,
    Metamorphosis Australia,
    Issue 57 (June 2010), pp. 30-32,
    Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 48.


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    (updated 2 February 2013)