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Species Cactoblastis cactorum - Cactus Moth - Hodges#5970.1

Cactoblastis cactorum Cactoblastis cactorum Cactoblastis cactorum Cactoblastis cactorum Cactoblastis cactorum Cactoblastis cactorum Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum
Show images of: caterpillars · adults · both
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
Superfamily Pyraloidea (Pyralid and Crambid Snout Moths)
Family Pyralidae (Pyralid Moths)
Subfamily Phycitinae
Tribe Phycitini
No Taxon (Cactus-Feeding Group)
Genus Cactoblastis
Species cactorum (Cactus Moth - Hodges#5970.1)
Hodges Number
Other Common Names
Prickly pear moth, Tropical Cactus Borer
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg)
Orig. Comb: Zophodia cactorum Berg, 1885
Explanation of Names
Cactorum (L). "of cacti"
C.c. larvae are the most distinctive stage
TX to FL to SC - Map (1), spreading in Texas since Aug. 1, 2018 (TISN), or possibly even earlier since 2017 (2)
Imported to the Caribbean to control prickly pear cacti; arrived in the U.S. naturally or in cargo imported from the Caribbean (Johnson and Stiling 1998).
prickly pear cactus - Opuntia spp.
Life Cycle
The larvae feed internally on the pads of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia). (3)
The moth has become a pest in se US.
This South American moth was introduced into Australia to control cacti, which are not native to that continent and which were becoming a very serious pest. It was so successful that memorials and monuments to it have been erected by grateful citizens there.
Print References
Awad, J., Hodges, A., Hight, S.D., Srivastava, M., Howe, A., Rohig, E. 2019. Laboratory rearing and sex ratio of Apanteles opuntiarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a potential biocontrol agent of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Florida Entomologist. 102(1): 216-221. (Full Text)
Higgins, A. 2001. Cactus Caretakers 101: Monitoring the Endangered Semaphore Cactus, Opuntia corallicola. The Nature Conservancy, Key West, FL. 10 pp.
Hight, S.D., J.E. Carpenter, and K.A. Bloem. 2002. Expanding geographical range of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in North America. Florida Entomologist. 85(3): 527-529. (Full PDF)
Johnson, D.M, and P.D. Stiling. 1998. Distribution and dispersal of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), an exotic Opuntia-feeding moth, in Florida. Florida Entomologist 81(1): 12-22. (Full PDF)
Mann, J., 1969. Cactus-feeding insects and mites. Bulletin of the United States National Museum 256: 1-158. (p. 44). (3)
Simonson, S.E., T.J. Stohlgren, L. Tyler, W.P. Gregg, R. Muir, and L.J. Garrett. 2005. Preliminary assessment of the potential impacts and risks of the invasive cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg, in the U.S. and Mexico. Final Report to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Solis, M.A., Hight, S.D., Gordon, D.R. 2004. Tracking the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg., as it flies and eats its way westward in the US. News of the Lepidopterists' Society, 46: 3-5. (Full PDF)
Zimmermann, H., S. Bloem, and H. Klein. 2004. Biology, history, threat, surveillance and control of the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum. International Atomic Energy Agency: Austria.
Zimmermann, H.G., Moran, V.C., & Hoffmann, J.H. 2000. The renowned cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum: its natural history and threat to native Opuntia floras in Mexico and the United States of America. Diversity and Distributions, 6(5): 259-269. (Full PDF)
Internet References
A prickly situation - Mike Merchant, 2020
Texas Entomology - Mike Quinn, 2020
Featured Creatures - Habeck et al., 2016 - University of Florida
Cactus Moth Images -
"Sticking It to the South American Cactus Moth" - James Carpente, Sept. 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine
Works Cited
1.Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
3.Cactus-feeding insects and mites
John Mann. 1969. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, 256: 1-158.