Maroga melanostigma (Wallengren, 1861)
Pecan Stem Girdler
(one synonym : Cryptophasa bipunctata Scott, 1864)
XYLORYCTIDAE ,   GELECHIOIDEA
 
Don Herbison-Evans
(donherbisonevans@outlook.com)
and
Stella Crossley


(Photo: courtesy of Mark Hartley, Sydney, New south Wales)

This Caterpillar is pale brown with sparse hairs, and has a dark brown head. It bores into the bark of trees, covering the holes with dark brown silk and frass.


(Photo: courtesy of Mark Hartley, Sydney, New south Wales)

It is an agricultural pest on crops in the ROSACEAE family such as :

  • Apple ( Malus pumila ),
  • Apricot ( Prunus armeniaca ),
  • Cherry ( Prunus avium ),
  • Peach ( Prunus persica ),
  • Raspberries ( Rubus idaeus ),

    and is also known to attack plants from other families such as :

  • Senna ( Cassia species, CAESALPINIACEAE ),
  • Sweet Wisteria ( Wisteria sinensis, FABACEAE ),
  • Pecan ( Carya illinoensis, JUGLANDACEAE ),
  • Wattles ( Acacia species, MIMOSACEAE ),
  • Common Fig ( Ficus carica, MORACEAE ),
  • Orange, Lemon, etc. ( Citrus species, RUTACEAE ),
  • Lantana ( Lantana camara, VERBENACEAE ), and
  • Grape Vine ( Vitis vinifera, VITACEAE ).


    The adult moth has satin white fore wings, each with a black dot near the centre. The hind wings are grey, and the body is black with yellow bands and a yellow tip. Also the upper part of each leg is covered in orange hairs. The moths have a wing span of about 4 cms.


    display mode

    The moths have a peculiar display when threatened: they lie down on their backs or sides, extending the wings upwards, and curl the abdomen over displaying the yellow tip.


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

    Specimens have been taken in taken in

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


    underside
    (Photo courtesy of Laura Levens, Upper Beaconsfield, Victoria)

    Attempts are being made to control the pest using:

  • Trichogramma wasps.


    underside
    (Photo: courtesy of Dianne Clarke, Mapleton, Queensland)


    Further reading :

    Ian F.B. Common,
    Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, pl. 6.5, pp. 229-230.

    Ian McMillan,
    Maroga melanostigma, Xyloryctine Moths of Australia,
    Blog, Friday, July 9, 2010.

    H.D.J. Wallengren,
    Lepidoptera. Species Novas Descripsit,
    Kongliga Svenska Fregatten Eugenies Resa Omkring Jorden (1851-1853),
    Entomologiska Bidrag, Volume IL, Part 1 (1861), p.387, No. 79.


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    (updated 7 February 2013)