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Photographer: Ignacio Baez
Source: USDA Agricultural Research Service,
Cover photo: Susan Ellis

Cactus Moth

Cactoblastis cactorum

Origin: Native of Argentina

Impact: Cactus moth larvae live and feed communally inside the pads of prickly pear cacti. Damaged pads will show characteristic oozing of internal plant juices and insect droppings.

The larvae of Cactoblastis cactorum are bright orange-red with large dark spots forming transverse bands. Mature larvae are 25 to 30 mm long. Larvae are caterpillars that are pink-cream colored at first and become orange with age. Black and red dots on the dorsal surface of each body segment coalesce with age to form dark bands. The larvae are much easier to discern than the non-descript adults.

Adult cactus moths are non-descript, gray-brown moths with faint dark spots and wavy transverse lines marking the wings. The rear margins of the hindwings are whitish, and semitransparent; and the antennae and legs are long. The wing span of the adults ranges from 22 to 35 mm.

Learn More: Species Profile.

Report Form

If you have spotted Cactoblastis cactorum (Cactus Moth), use this report form to send an email to the appropriate authorities.

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