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New Zealand Plant Protection 64 (2011): 285

Philobota sp. (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae), a potential new pasture pest in New Zealand

A.J. Popay and D. Gunawardana


In February 2010, caterpillars initially identified as a species of Philobota (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae) were found in a nursery area at Ruakura Research Centre in Hamilton. The identification was confirmed by MAF's Plant Health and Environment Laboratory (PHEL). This genus is endemic to Australia where over 400 species are known, a few of which are regarded as minor pests of pasture. A survey of the Ruakura site found Philobota in three other areas, two of which bordered urban areas. It was found infesting perennial ryegrass and tall fescue trials in two parts of the campus and in pasture areas in the other two locations, suggesting this insect is primarily a grass feeder. It is highly likely Philobota is not confined to Ruakura and there is no evidence that the infestation originated at this site. Although few live caterpillars could be found by August 2010, observations in 2011 suggest populations have multiplied in at least one trial site. Commonly called the pasture tunnel moth, this insect is univoltine and weaves characteristic tunnels from grass and debris with 'chimneys' that protrude above ground. Caterpillars reared at PHEL yielded only female moths, which have been tentatively identified as Philobota nr. pilipes.

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pdfObservations on Philobota sp. (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae) near Hamilton in 2012
P.J. Gerard (2013)
New Zealand Plant Protection 66: 148-152

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