Return to Texas Entomology - Compiled by Mike Quinn

Cactus Moth has been spreading on the Upper Texas Coast since July 2017

Texas County Records for the Cactus Moth as of Feb. 2020

Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum

Brazoria, Calhoun, Colorado, and Matagoda Counties

County records per Dr. Lawrence Gilbert

Earliest Texas record from July 29, 2017 in Brazoria Co.

Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg, 1885)

Family Pyralidae - Pyralid Moths

The most distinctive stage is the caterpillar stage

Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum
Cactus Moth - Cactoblastis cactorum

St. Lucie County, Florida
April 24, 2007 - Jeff Hollenbeck

Since the invasive cactus moth's first detection in the Florida Keys in 1989,
this species has shown a strong coastal affinity (outside of the Florida peninsula),
a habitat preference that seems to be continuing down the Texas coast.
Note, Prickly Pear Cactus - Opuntia spp., are widely distributed in Southeastern US,
and not restricted to coastal areas.

SE US Cactus Moth Map - APHIS, USDA
Map per Jezorek & Stiling, University of South Florida


          Feeds exclusively on opuntioid species of cacti Opuntia, Consolea, Nopalea - County range maps per Biota of North America Program (BONAP)

Featured Creatures - Habeck et al., 2016 - Univ. Florida
"Sticking It to the South American Cactus Moth" - Sept. 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
- 2020
Texas Invasive Species Network - TISN


          A prickly situation - Mike Merchant, 2020

Power Points:

A brief history of Cactoblastis cactorum and its effects on Florida native Opuntia - Heather Jezorek & Peter Stiling, University of South Florida

Predicting the Distribution of the Invasive Cactus Moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, and its Major Host Plant, Opuntia stricta, in Florida - Kristen Sauby, 2014


Awad, J., Hodges, A., Hight, S.D., Srivastava, M., Howe, A., Rohig, E. 2019. Laboratory rearing and sex ratio of Apanteles opuntiarum (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a potential biocontrol agent of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Florida Entomologist. 102(1): 216-221. (Full Text)

Chavez-Ramirez F, Wang XG, Jones K, Hewitt D, Felker P. 1997. Ecological characterization of Opuntia clones in South Texas: Implications for wildlife herbivory and frugivory. Journal of the Professional Association for Cactus Development 2: 9-19. (Full PDF)

Hight, S.D., J.E. Carpenter, and K.A. Bloem. 2002. Expanding geographical range of Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) in North America. Florida Entomologist. 85(3): 527-529. (Full PDF)

Solis, M.A., Hight, S.D., Gordon, D.R. 2004. Tracking the cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum Berg., as it flies and eats its way westward in the US. News of the Lepidopterists' Society, 46: 3-5. (Full PDF)

Zimmermann, H.G., Moran, V.C., & Hoffmann, J.H. 2000. The renowned cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum: its natural history and threat to native Opuntia floras in Mexico and the United States of America. Diversity and Distributions, 6(5): 259-269. (Full PDF)

04 April 2020  Mike Quinn / / Texas Entomology / Texas Lep Information