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Photo#280095
Caterpillars on Prickly Pear Cactus - Cactoblastis cactorum

Caterpillars on Prickly Pear Cactus - Cactoblastis cactorum
Yamato Scrub, South Florida County, Florida, USA
May 25, 2009
Size: ~1-1.5 in.

Moved

yes
more often found inside the plant. An accidental (or maybe not) introduction into Florida from southern South America via the Caribbean. Was a good thing in Australia; is a very very very bad thing in the US and Caribbean. Locations should be reported to Extension Service or USDA PPQ. It's range is expanding rapidly in the se. US and it is threatening the very existence of native Cacti, particularly of the genus Opuntia.

Very closely related native species of moths (genus Melitara) have bluish caterpillars, are also destructive to cacti, but have native checks (preditors, diseases, etc.) that keep them from being so devastating to native cactus populations.

 
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