Mango shoot looper found in North Queensland

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) is responding to a recent detection of an exotic moth — mango shoot looper (Perixera cf. illepidaria).

Mango shoot looper is an invasive pest from Asia which has not previously been detected in Australia. It has so far been found in Mareeba, Mutchilba and Biboohra.

Biosecurity Queensland at DAF is currently undertaking surveillance activities to determine the extent of its distribution, and to inform response strategies and advice for industry

Mango shoot looper larvae feed voraciously on tender shoots, flowers and immature fruit, and can severely damage tree canopies. The insect completes its full life cycle in 15-19 days, and the larval period is typically eight or nine days.

In Far North Queensland, the moth has been observed causing significant damage on mango plants, which includes totally stripping back flowers and damaging young fruit.

Severe infestations may cause 80-100% leaf and flower damage on affected trees and significant crop losses due to damage to flowers and immature fruit.

Mango shoot looper is a threat to commercial mango and lychee production but, due to having only been found recently, its broader impact is currently unknown.

Mango and lychee are known host plants, however, broader information on host plants is not available. Fruit trees related to mango and lychee (or with a similar growing habit), such as rambutan, longan, cashew and pistachio should be considered potential hosts of the pest. In Queensland, the pest has not yet been detected on anything other than mango, but growers in potentially affected industries should be alert for signs of the pest.

Mangoes are common backyard trees in Queensland, so home gardeners will also be affected.

Mango shoot looper does not affect the quality of mature mango or lychee fruit. No fruit supply issues are anticipated; mangoes and lychees will continue to be available on both the domestic and export markets and are safe to eat.

Suspected cases of mango shoot looper should be reported to help DAF understand the distribution of the insect and its impact as quickly as possible. This will help inform advice to industry and any future response requirements.

Individual property quarantines are not part of DAF’s response to this pest. As this pest is a strong flier and there is high host availability in the affected area, regulatory measures are unlikely to effectively restrict the spread of the pest within a locality.

Growers and production nurseries should always check their crops regularly for signs of plant pests and disease. If you suspect a mango shoot looper infestation, please report it to Biosecurity Queensland onlineor by calling 13 25 23. 

Description

Adults

- Adult moths are very pale brown or cream in colour, with small darker spots on their wings.

Larvae

- Larvae vary in colour from place brown to black, with a mottled, patterned appeared.
- Full grown larvae are around 1.7-2.2 cm long.
- Larvae have a “looping” appearance when moving, and may make silken threads that hang vertically between flower panicles and leaf material. These threads allow them to move on the plant to reach new feeding areas.

Pupae

- Pupae are typically 8 or 9 mm long.
- Newly formed pupae are green in colour and darken to brown before adult emergence.
- Pupae may be seen on upper surfaces of leaves in large numbers

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