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Plantwise Technical Factsheet

coconut spike moth (Tirathaba rufivena)

Host plants / species affected
Cocos nucifera (coconut)
Elaeis guineensis (African oil palm)
Musa (banana)
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)
Nypa fruticans (nipa palm)
Phaseolus (beans)
List of symptoms/signs
Growing point  -  external feeding
Inflorescence  -  external feeding
Inflorescence  -  webbing
Male flowers are especially attacked by the larvae. The larvae are very active and move quickly when disturbed. Infestation causes abortion of young, underdeveloped fruits. The growing point may be damaged in very young plantations; severe attacks cause wilting of the growing point and delay development of the plant.
Prevention and control
Biological Control

Laboratory and field studies have been conducted in the Philippines to assess the effectiveness of different parasites and pathogens of T. rufivena. Larvae of >15 mm were highly susceptible to the entomoparasitic nematode, Steinernema feltiae, in the laboratory (Zelazny, 1985); however, the pest was not significantly reduced in field trials.

The pathogen B. bassiana caused higher mortality of T. rufivena and of two other coconut pests than Metarhizium anisopliae in laboratory tests (Gallego and Gallego, 1988). Godfray and Paine (1985) reared the tachinid fly, Agrophylax basifulva, which was introduced from Fiji; a method of artificial host parasitization was described for this species.

Several studies have been conducted on the ichneumonid Venturia palmaris in Malaysia (Ng et al., 1982; Yew, 1980). The parasite was present throughout the year but no parasitism was observed in November or December. The degree of parasitism ranged from 2% in August to 31.9% in February. The parasite preferred to oviposit in late-instar larvae rather than in young larvae or pupae. More than one egg was laid per host but only one larva reached the second instar. Laboratory studies on life cycle and oviposition behaviour indicated that the sex ratio was probably the limiting factor in mass rearing V. palmaris in the laboratory for use in biological control; however, this was not observed in the field.

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:

No comparable data on the economic impact of this pest are reported in recent literature. T. rufivena can be unimportant or severe when unexplained outbreaks occur; the moth is usually present but outbreaks may be spontaneous.

The main damage caused by T. rufivena is the abortion of young fruits. The growing point may be damaged in very young plantations. Losses are dependent on the degree of infestation.
Related treatment support
External factsheets
Pestnet Factsheets, Pestnet, English language
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