Darna sp. Minimize

 

 

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February 2007. A caterpillar outbreak occurred last year on coconut palms at a resort island (Sun Islands) in South Ari Atoll, Maldives, and has yet to be identified. It was thought to be the coconut spike moth, Tirathaba rufivena, but the caterpillar specimens were not in good condition. It is reported that the larvae are yellow and black. Caterpillars were also collected from a neighboring island (Hilton).

All caterpillars and adults are Limacodidae. The pictures are not good enough to say that they are the same species. The Hilton caterpillar may be Darna sp. (subgenus Ploneta), which was reported to be outbreaking in the Maldives a year or so ago. The larva is close to that of Darna (Ploneta) diducta esterase Holloway known from Luzon Island, Philippines, but dissection and examination of the adult male genitalia would be necessary for authoritative identification.

The adults from South Ari are suggestive of Darna (Subgenus Oxyplax) pallivitta, which is a minor pest of palms from China to Indonesia (Holloway et al. 1987), and recently became established as an alien species in Hawaii (various refs, some on The Internet). Again, it would be necessary to dissect and examine the adult male genitalia to confirm this. A Google search for Darna pallivitta will give pictures of adults and larvae.

Darna pallivitta it is a fairly regularly encountered species in Hong Kong, though as there are no palm plantations here, just ornamental use, it never reaches high abundance densities.

Holloway JD, Cock MJW, Desmier de Chenon R (1987) Systematic account of the South-east Asian pest Limacodidae. In Cock, MJW, Godfray HCJ, Holloway JD (Eds) Slug and nettle caterpillars. The biology, taxonomy and control of the Limacodidae of economic importance on palms in South-east Asia. Wallingford, U.K.; CAB International, pp. 15-117.

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