Cactus-eating caterpillar

Anne Kilmer viceroy at
Sun Jun 13 13:05:21 EDT 1999

Cactoblastus. Not native at all. 
It was being used as a biological control and got brought into Florida
by accident. 
The external application of Bt would be no help at all, since  the
critter works internally. Perhaps Monsanto would like to produce a
genetically altered prickly pear cactus. :-)
Meanwhile, surgical removal of infested portions of the cactus might
help, and you can do rough proddings with hatpins ... 
A little wandering on the Web indicates that the dratted thing is
regarded as a savior in Australia; not so hot in Mauii ... and so it
goes.  These are places where the Opuntia was introduced as cattle food,
turned out to be a nuisance, and they're trying to get rid of it.
For Heaven's sake persuade people not to move cacti around, as you're
sure to move the eggs and larvae along with them. 
In Dade, they're sleeving the rare cactus, but it doesn't do much good. 
While I hate systemic insecticides on principle, this might be an
occasion to experiment with them, if you can find something that won't
harm gopher tortoises ...    
The University of Florida might be doing some work on this; get your
county agent to help you find out. Maybe some little curve-beak bird is
the moth's natural enemy. 
Anne Kilmer
South Florida
(and Mayo, Ireland)

Paul F Austin wrote:
> --
> Hi y'all,
> At our meeting Friday night, one of our Florida Native Plant Society
> members brought a caterpillar that is eating up her prickly pear cactus.
> It is about 3/4 inch long, flattened body, darkish orange with black
> bands. She said they bore into the pads and eat the insides out, killing
> her plants. What is it, is it native to east central Florida and how to
> control it? Any help would be appreciated.tyia
> Martha Steuart, president, Conradina Chapter of FNPS
> Brevard County, Florida
> paustin at

More information about the Leps-l mailing list