Submitted to: Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 30, 2007
Publication Date: July 8, 2008
Citation: Brown, J.W. 2008. Review of the Neotropical genus Cacocharis Walsingham (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Olethreutini), with a new synonymy and comments on its host plants and geographic distribution. Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. 110:533-542.
Interpretive Summary: Caterpillars of moths in the family commonly known as leaf-rollers cause billions of dollars in damage annually to forest, ornamental, and agricultural plants. Detection, exclusion, and control of these species relies heavily on their recognition and accurate identification. In this paper I discuss and illustrate two similar species that appear to have been spread throughout the New World along with their hosts, which are widely used as medicinal plants. It is likely that one of the species first arrived in Florida in 1950s. The information presented in this paper will be of interest to those studying historical biogeography of the Caribbean region, scientists documenting the spread of invasive species, and action agencies such as APHIS whose goals are the detection and exclusion of foreign pests.
Cacocharis is a small Neotropical genus comprised of two species: C. albimacula Walsingham and C. cymotoma (Meyrick). The synonymy of Olethreutes canofascia Forbes with C. cymotoma is proposed. The two recognized species are sympatric in the Caribbean - on Jamaica, Dominica, and St. Vincent - indicating considerable independent dispersal (or inadvertent introduction) events. Based on literature and specimen sources, the larval food plants for the genus are Phyllanthus acidus Skeels and P. niuri L. (Euphorbiaceae) which are widely known for their medicinal properties. A possible explanation for the high level of sympatry of the moth species is that they have been transported throughout the Caribbean along with their larval hosts.