Epiblema strenuana (Walker, 1863)
Stem Galling Moth
(one synonym : Steganoptycha flavocellana Clemens, 1865)
EUCOSMINI ,   OLETHREUTINAE ,   TORTRICIDAE ,   TORTRICOIDEA
  
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Raman Anantanarayanan
and
Stella Crossley

Epiblema strenuana
Live neonate larva
tunnelling downward into Parthenium hysterophorus shoot.

This Caterpillar originated in America, where its foodplants are from various genera of the family ASTERACEAE including:

  • Ambrosia,
  • Xanthium,

    as well as

  • Chenopodium ( CHENOPODIACEAE ).

    Epiblema strenuana
    Mature larva within its gall (preserved and slightly wrinkled specimen)
    also tunnelling downward into Parthenium hysterophorus shoot.

    In 1982, it was introduced into Australia from Mexico to control the weeds of the family ASTERACEAE :

  • Noogoora Burr ( Xanthium occidentale ),
  • Ragweed ( Ambrosia artemisiifolia ), and
  • Feverfew ( Parthenium hysterophorus ).

    It has been considered for the same purpose in Canada.

    The eggs are very small, and pale in colour. They are laid singly on the leaves of a foodplant. The first instar larva burrows into the leaf to feed. Later, the Caterpillar burrows into the centre of a growing shoot, feeding on the terminal meristem, and growing to length of about 1 cm. It induces the plant to thicken the stem, creating an elongated gall, about 1 cm across and with a length of about 2 cms. In this gall, the Caterpillar subsequently lives, feeds, and pupates. In due course, the adult moth emerges from the gall from approximately the same position as that at which the Caterpillar originally entered the shoot, thus having executed a nifty about-turn inside the gall.

    Epiblema strenuana
    (Photo: courtesy of Todd Gilligan, Colorado State University)

    The adult moths are dark brown with pale wingtips. They have a wingspan of about 1.5 cms.

    Epiblema strenuana
    (Picture: courtesy of CSIRO Encosystem sciences)

    The species still occurs in

  • Mexico,
  • U.S.A.,

    and in 2009 was proposed for introduvction into

  • Taiwan.

    Although the caterpillar and pupa are attacked by a number of Australian native Lepidoptera parasitoids, the species now also occurs in

  • Queensland.


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia,
    Melbourne University Press, 1990, p. 73.

    K. Dhileepan, Catherine J. Lockett, and Rachel E. McFadyen,
    Larval parasitism by native insects on the introduced stem-galling moth Epiblema strenuana Walker (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) and its implications for biological control of Parthenium hysterophorus (Asteraceae) ,
    Australian Journal of Entomology,
    February 2005, vol. 44, no. 1, pp. 83-88.

    Francis Walker,
    Tortricites & Tineites,
    List of the Specimens of Lepidopterous Insects in the Collection of the British Museum,
    Part 28 (1863), p. 383, No. 139.


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    (updated 11 October 2009, 17 October 2013, 27 January 2014)