Photo 2. Caterpillar of the bele(cotton) leaf roller, Haritolodes deregata, showing the dark spots behind the head.
Cotton leaf roller, bele leaf roller
Haritalodes derogata (previously Sylepta derogata).
Worldwide. Asia, Africa, Oceania. It is recorded from Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Solomon Islands.
Bele (aibika, island cabbage or sliperi kabis, Abelmoschus manihot. The moth is also a pest of ornamental Hibiscus, cotton, okra, and some weeds.
The caterpillars roll the leaves, remaining inside the tunnel they create, eating the leaves at the edges and between the main veins.
Eggs are laid singly or in groups on the underside of the leaves. At first, the larvae stay together and feed on the undersides, only later staying alone inside folded leaves (Photo 1). From the second moult they have two dark spots just behind the head on the first segment of the thorax (Photos 2&3). After a short pupal stage, the adults emerge. Their wings are cream with a continuous line along the outer and back border of the wings, and dark-brown 'scattered' lines elsewhere (Photo 4). The wingspan is 30-40 mm. The life cycle of the bele leaf roller is about 30 days from egg to adult.
The damage is extensive with broad-leafed varieties appearing to suffer more than those with deeply divided leaves (Photo 5). Curling, drooping and defoliation of leaves is common (Photo 6).
Look for rolled leaves. Look for webbing around the caterpillar, which has two spots on the top of the segment behind the head. The spots are a characteristic feature of the bele (cotton) leaf roller.
Apart from spiders and praying mantids, there are few records of predators and parasites attacking the bele leaf roller.
If pesticides are necessary, use botanical (plant-derived pesticides) sprays first, as these will cause less harm to natural enemies, and cost less, than synthetic commercial products.
AUTHORS Helen Tsatsia & Grahame Jackson
Photos 1-3 Suzanne Neave, CABI, UK. Photo 4 Georg Goergen, IITA/Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin.
Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.
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