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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

nettle caterpillar (Parasa lepida)

Host plants / species affected
Camellia sinensis (tea)
Cassia (sennas)
Cocos nucifera (coconut)
Coffea (coffee)
Diospyros (malabar ebony)
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)
Litchi chinensis (lichi)
Mangifera indica (mango)
Manihot esculenta (cassava)
Musa (banana)
Populus deltoides (poplar)
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (winged bean)
Theobroma cacao (cocoa)
List of symptoms/signs
Fruit  -  premature drop
Leaves  -  abnormal leaf fall
Leaves  -  external feeding
Leaves  -  frass visible
Leaves  -  necrotic areas
As soon as they hatch on the host leaves, the young caterpillars of Parasa lepida feed on the underside of the epidermis, stripping it off the leaflets; often beginning at the tip where the eggs were laid. They then eat the edges of the leaflet and devour large areas of the lamina. When they have finished developing, the whole leaflet will have been consumed systematically from tip to base, leaving only the midrib, along which the notched indentations left by the caterpillars are visible.
Prevention and control

Cultural Control

In young plantings, where the fronds are accessible, the attacks confined to a few trees and the Parasa lepida caterpillars closely grouped, they can be collected by hand and destroyed. As the cocoons are laid side by side, they too can easily be dealt with in the same way.

Chemical Control

Due to the variable regulations around (de-)registration of pesticides, we are for the moment not including any specific chemical control recommendations. For further information, we recommend you visit the following resources:

Parasa lepida can severely attack coconut soon after field planting. The first outbreaks of P. lepida are usually localized, with only a few trees defoliated and the infestation is thus easy to identify. However, if no control measures are instituted, the infested area may enlarge rapidly in the course of the next pest generation.

Older coconuts in adult stands can also be heavily attacked, and sometimes the whole crown is affected. After such defoliation, the palms produce fewer nuts for the first 6 months, then practically none at all for the next 20 months, and yield does not return to normal until the end of month 40 (i.e. in the fourth year after defoliation).
Related treatment support
External factsheets
TNAU Agritech Portal Crop Protection Factsheets, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, English language
Plant Health Australia Factsheets, Plant Health Australia, English language
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