Cactus Moth (Cactoblastis cactorum)

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery November 04, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

The cactus moth has a rather checkered past. It has been used successfully to eradicate extensive infestations of prickly pear (Opuntia spp) cactus in Australia, the Caribbean and parts of Hawaii. Unfortunately, the cactus moth will also feed on many desirable native cacti in western Texas and Mexico. The loss of biodiversity in west Texas and Mexico would adversely affect wildlife habitat and food sources. It was discovered in the Florida Keys in 1989 and now has been found in Florida and the barrier islands of South Carolina and Alabama.

Current management efforts focus on early detection and possible use of the sterile insect technique to establish a barrier to further spread.

Additional information on cactus moth can be found at: USDA APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.