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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DISCOVERY, IDENTIFICATION AND RISK-ASSESSMENT OF BIOCONTROL AGENTS FOR SUPPRESSION OF SOUTH AMERICAN INVASIVE WEEDS AND INSECTS IN THE U.S. Title: Extended geographical distribution and host range of the cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera Pyralidae)in Argentina

item Briano, Juan -
item Varone, Laura -
item Logarzo, Guillermo -
item Villamil, Carlos -

Submitted to: Florida Entomologist
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 23, 2011
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Citation: Briano, J., Varone, L., Logarzo, G., Villamil, C. 2012. Extended geographical distribution and host range of the cactus moth Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera Pyralidae)in Argentina. Florida Entomologist. 95(1):233-237.

Interpretive Summary: The cactus moth arrived accidentally in Florida in 1989 from the Caribbean and spread to the west reaching Louisiana in 2009. It is now threatening wild and cultivated cacti in southern US and Mexico. In its native Argentina, the known southern boundary of its distribution was reported to be northeastern Buenos Aires province. To confirm its occurrence further south, a field exploration was conducted in the provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa, San Luis, Mendoza and Río Negro; a total of 1,000 cacti plants were examined in 62 roadside sites. The cactus moth was found at 10 sites in southern Buenos Aires, La Pampa, and Rio Negro in three species of cacti, one of them a new host. These findings represent an extension of the moth’s geographic distribution to approximately 800 km south of its original limit, indicating a higher cold tolerance, which would eventually extend the threat to more northern populations of cacti in North America.

Technical Abstract: A field exploration was conducted to confirm the southernmost distribution of Cactoblastis cactorum in Argentina. The distribution of the moth was extended to the south (40° 10´S) and west (66° 56´W). The native Opuntia penicilligera was recorded as a host for the first time. These findings should be useful in improving bioclimatic models to predict the potential geographic range in North America.

Last Modified: 8/27/2016