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A fruit loving moth

Eudocima cocalus (Cramer) female
Eudocima cocalus (Cramer) female

This wonderful looking moth is in fact a bit of a pest, on account of the fact that it likes to make holes in fruits and suck out the juices! Hence it has acquired the name Cocalus Fruit Piercing Moth, which sounds very grand for such a little insect. This is the female shown here (above); the male does not have such nice white blotches. However, they can both pierce ripening fruits with their proboscises – penetrating the skin and pulp of fruit – to get at the juices. Unfortunately, this can cause crop losses of more than 50% in many crops – by allowing microorganisms to enter – such as Lychee and Carambola (1).

Seen in profile like this, the moth looks like it would blend in well on a lichen covered branch, but the hindwings (tucked away) have prominent yellow patches (2), which might be used to startle would-be predators? There is also a prominent ‘snout’ at the front end. I wonder what that is for? The antennae are long and thin and are tucked away in this photo; as is the fruit stabbing proboscis.

Also amazing to think that this noctuid moth was first described by Pieter Cramer in 1777! (3) I photographed it near Khao Yai, Thailand.

  1. Leong, S. C. T., & Kueh, R. J. H. (2011). Seasonal abundance and suppression of fruit-piercing moth Eudocima phalonia (L.) in a citrus orchard in Sarawak. The Scientific World Journal, 11, 2330-2338.
  2. http://www.projectnoah.org/spottings/37867071
  3. http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/item/95175#page/142/mode/1up

rcannon992 View All

I am an entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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