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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Fruit piercing moth

Eudocima phalonia

Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Noctuidae

Eudocima phalonia

Photographer:Unknown Affiliation:Pest and Diseases Image Library Source:www.bugwood.org Copyright: CC BY-NC 3.0


These stout-bodied moths can have a wingspan up to 10cm and large eyes that glow red when illuminated. The forewing is olive-brown and can resemble a leaf while the other wings are patterned with black and orange. Infested fruits show several symptoms including black lesions, premature dropping, ooze coming from external feeding sites and exit holes. These holes are made by a strong, barbed proboscis (tubular mouthpart). Unlike most noctuid moths that feed on nectar, both sexes of adults can pierce ripening fruit, penetrate the skin and pulp of fruit.

Host Plant: Over 55 plants including Citrus spp., Solanum spp (tomatoes), Fruits such as: Papaya, passion fruit, pineapple, peach, guava and strawberry guava, pomegranate and plums (Prunus spp), Litchi chinensis and many more.

Ecological Threat

Being a major pest of several economically important crops is why this moth has made the Priority Pest List for 2014. Even though it in not spread throughout the southern United States, it has caused great damage in Asia and Australia. In Thailand, 50-70% crop reduction in citrus crops have occurred, and in New Caledonia, Australia, 95% of citrus and 100% of tomatoes can be destroyed in outbreak years. A citrus fruit's susceptibility to attack by fruit-piercing moths increases as fruit near maturity and in early maturing varieties. Failure to detect fruit-piercing moth damage at harvest or packing can result in healthy fruit being contaminated by fermenting juices during shipment. Whole boxes or cartons of fruit may then be lost.


Eudocima fullonia has four developmental stages including egg, larva, pupa and adult. There are five larval instars. Total development time for egg-laying to adult emergence is about 30 to 43 days. Eggs are pale yellow and have some striation when first laid. In Fiji, females lay eggs from June to October. Larvae populations peak in August and can be found feeding on the underside of leaves. Mature larvae stop feeding and create cocoons for metamorphosis. Adult moths feed on the fruits directly and mate shortly after emergence.


Found in Hawaii in 1985, and in 2001, a book on easily observed butterfly species of Hawaii was published. However, recent federal surveys have not shown the moth to be present, suggesting effective management strategies. Eudocima fullonia is consistently intercepted at major ports since 1994. It has been surveyed for in Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia but has yet to be established in the continental United States.

Native Origin

Indo-Malaysian region

Current Location

U.S. Habitat: Due to its wide host plant range and adaptability for several biomes (from boreal and coniferous forests to savannas and shrublands), it has the potential to become established in Texas and upwards to Maine.

U.S. Present: Hawaii


Eudocima fullonia is not easily confused with any other butterfly species.


When populations are low, the physical removal of damaged, fallen or rotten fruit can reduce populations even more. Early harvesting of fruit in outbreak years will help reduce the amount of damage, however, industry fruit-maturation standards may not allow this to happen. Studies have shown Eudocima fullonia to attack along the outer edges of crops so if crops are planted in square blocks (as opposed to long rows) this should limit the number of crops infested.

Biological control of E. fullonia, has been quite successful in Fiji and Samoa following the introduction of two egg parasitoids (Telenomus lucullus Nixon, and an undescribed Ooencyrtus sp. (papilionis sp. group) originally from Papua New Guinea.


Text References

Bänziger, H. 1982. Fruit-piercing moths (Lep., Noctuidae) in Thailand: A general survey and some new perspectives. Mitteilungen der Schweizerischen Entomologischen Gesellschaft 55:210-240.

Jamieson, D. G., & Denny, J. 2001. Hawaii's Butterflies and Moths: An Identification Guide to Easily Observed Species. Mutual Publishing Company.

Waterhouse, D. F., and K. R. Norris. 1987. Biological Control: Pacific Prospects. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research; Inkata Press, Melbourne.


Internet Sources







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