The South American cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, is a grayish-brown moth with a wingspan of approximately 0.86 to 1.4 inches belonging to the insect family Pyralidae. The moth is pest of Opuntia species (also known as prickly pear cactus), and an occasional pest of Nopalea, Cylindropuntia, and Consolea species, four closely related opuntioid cactus genera belonging to the plant family Cactaceae.
The above illustration demonstrates the life cycle of the South American cactus moth: (a) Female moth releasing sex pheromone, (b) mating, (c) female depositing an egg stick, d) hatching, (e) external damage,(f) Shown here in cross-section, larval feeding, (g) internal development of larvae, (h) hollowing out the cactus pad, (i) mature larvae, (j) pupae, (k), adult moths.
Clarissa J. Maroon-Lango
Director, Biocontrol, and Forest, Wood and Rangeland Pests
Telephone: (301) 851-2328