Maruca vitrata (Fabricius, 1787)
Beanpod Borer
(one synonym : Hydrocampe aquatilis Guérin-Méneville, 1832)
Don Herbison-Evans
Bart Hacobian & Stella Crossley

(Photo: courtesy of Embrapa Soja, Brazil)

Initially: the Caterpillars of this species are pale yellow with a pale brown head. Later they become brown with a dark brown head. They have a black thorax, and rows of black raised spots along the back. The caterpillars are a considerable agricultural pest, feeding inside the developing seedpods of various members of the family FABACEAE, such as :

  • Pidgeon Peas ( Cajanus cajan ),
  • Beans ( Phaseolus vulgaris ),
  • Garden Peas ( Pisum sativum ),
  • Coffeeweed ( Sesbania herbacea ), and
  • Cowpeas ( Vigna unguiculata ).

    The adult moth has brown forewings with white patches, and white hind wings with an irregular brown border. The moth has a wingspan of about 2 cms.

    The species is found over much of the tropics, including:

  • Africa,
  • Hawaii,
  • India, and
  • Taiwan,

    and all over Australia, including :

  • Western Australia,
  • Northern Territory,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Victoria, and
  • Tasmania.

    Actually two forms of Maruca vitrata are present in Australia.

    second Australian form

    Although the species is an international economic pest, uncertainty exists as to whether the two distinct forms present in Australia are separate species, and if they are, which one is actually the pest species. Currently, they both appear to occur over the whole of Australia.

    (Photo: courtesy of Nick Monaghan, Tewantin, Queensland)

    Control is being attempted using:

  • insecticides,
  • various natural parasitoids, and
  • a special light trap.

    drawing by Guérin-Méneville, listed as Hydrocampe aquatilis
    Iconographie du Règne Animal de G. Cuvier,
    Tome II (1832), Planche 90, fig. 9,
    image courtesy of Biodiversity Heritage Library, digitized by Smithsonian Libraries.

    Further reading :

    Johan Christian Fabricius,
    Classi VI. Glossata,
    Mantisssa Insectorum,
    Volume 2 (1787), p. 215, No. 255.

    Félix Édouard Guérin-Méneville,
    Cuvier Insectes,
    Représentation d'après nature de l'une des espèces les plus et souvent non encore figurées de chaque genre d'animaux,
    Volume 1 (1832), pp. 524-525, and also Volume 2 (1832) Plate 90, fig. 9.

    Buck Richardson,
    Tropical Queensland Wildlife from Dusk to Dawn Science and Art,
    LeapFrogOz, Kuranda, 2015, p. 42.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 29 October 2012, 17 April 2017, 9 August 2019)