Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network Grows in Size

Cactus moth is best known as a biocontrol species used in Australia and Africa. It entered the United States in the early 1990s and now poses a serious ecological threat to all 63 native flat pad prickly pear cacti (Opuntia spp.) in North America. It is also an economic threat to Mexico, where prickly pear cacti are grown as a fresh vegetable and livestock feed. The cactus moth is spreading westward in the southern United States naturally at a rate of about 100 miles annually. Invasive Species Information Node (ISIN) partners at Mississippi State University (MSU) cooperating with U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have established a National Cactus Moth Early Detection and Monitoring Network with an online presence. Victor Maddox (MSU) spent more than two weeks in June and July mapping cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum) host plants between Los Angeles, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and southern Louisiana.

(Photo: comparison between the native moth Melitara and Cactoblastis cactus moth.  Courtesy of the National Cactus Moth Early Detection and Monitoring Network website; right: map displaying prickly pear locations and cactus Moth locations).


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