Lesser Date Moth, Batrachedra amydraula

A species of moth of the Batrachedridae family found from Bangladesh to western Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, Iraq, and Iran, as well as most of North Africa.

The wingspan is 10-14 mm. The larvae feed on Derris trifoliata and Phoenix dactylifera. It is one of the most important pests on date palm that may cause more than 50% loss of the crop. There are three generations per year in the United Arab Emirates. The first larvae appear in April and damage newly formed fruits. They are dormant from August to March of the following year, resting between the bases of the terminal fronds. Pupation takes place in March and adults emerge in April. (Full Article)

Biology

The adult moths have a wing span of 10–14 mm. The front wings are lanceolate with brownish scales. The hind wings are narrow, light grey and long-fringed. The eggs are small, light yellow and are laid singly on the flowers and immature fruits. The larvae, when full grown, are about 10–12 mm long. The head and the prothorax are light brown while the rest of the body is translucent white. The prolegs are on the abdominal segments 3–4 and on the last. Pupae are slender, long and light-brown in color.

Nature of Damage

This moth is a major pest of date fruits and may cause 50-75% losses due to fruit drop. Injury is inflicted by the larvae that spin a web around the fruits and attaches them to the strands or to other fruits. They then enter the fruit near its sepals, or less frequently at other sites, and feed on the pulp and immature seeds. When small fruits are infested they usually remain attached to the strand by silken threads. In their first generation the larvae infest several fruits before completing development, thus increasing the damage. Large fruits usually drop after being attacked. Heavily infested fruit bunches cease to grow and dry. Dates in stores may also be affected. (Source: http://www.agri.huji.ac.il/mepests/pest/Batrachedra_amydraula/)

Monitoring

The lesser date moth can be monitored via sex pheromone lures and controlled with Bacillus thuringensis-based products, such as Antario.

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