Photo 1. Caterpillars of the cabbage heart-centre caterpillar, Crocidolomia pavonana, eating at the heart of a cabbage. Notice the stripes on the caterpillars.
Photo 3. Adult of the cabbage heart-centre moth, Crocidolomia pavonana, displayed to show wing patterns.
Photo 4. Young cabbage showing attack on young and old leaves by the cabbage heart-centre caterpillar, Crocidolomia pavonana.
Cabbage cluster caterpillar, large cabbage moth (LCM), large cabbage-heart caterpillar
Crocidolomia pavonana; previously, known as Crocidolomia binotalis.
Widespread. Asia, Africa, Oceania. It is recorded from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Guam, New Caledonia, Nuie, Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu. In many of these countries, the species is given as binotalis, an older name.
Members of the brassica family - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, mustard and radish.
The larvae or caterpillars feed on all stages of the plants, although they rarely attack seedlings.
Eggs are laid on the underside of the outer leaves in a mass of 10 to more than a 100. They are pale green at first, becoming bright yellow, and then brown before hatching. The caterpillars grow to 20 mm, with long hairs and white or pale green stripes (Photo 1); the later stages make thick webs over the leaves, and the caterpillars feed beneath them. Often, they feed at the plant centre.
The caterpillars pupate in the soil. The adult moth is light brown, just less than 20 mm long, with two small white triangular spots on each forewing (Photos 2&3).
The life cycle is about 22 days in the lowlands, and 35 days in the highlands.
Damage is often severe as the caterpillars feed on the "heart" or centre of plants (Photos 4&5). The caterpillars often occur with those of diamondback moth. Even a single caterpillar is capable of causing significant damage and, therefore, economic loss.
Look for the egg masses on the lower surfaces of the leaves, along the midrib and main veins. Look for caterpillars at the centre of cabbages with white or pale green stripes; look for the presence of webbing and faeces (small brown droppings).
There is little information about natural enemies in Pacific island countries. A braconid wasp and a tachinid fly occur in Papua New Guinea, but neither is able to prevent high levels of damage. Generalist predators, e.g., ladybird beetles and lacewing larvae are also likely to attack large cabbage-heart caterpillars. In Samoa, a strain of Trichogramma chilonis has been found that lays its eggs in the eggs of Crocidolomia pavonana.
AUTHORS Helen Tsatsia & Grahame Jackson
Information from CABI (2014) Crop Protection Compendium: Crocidolomia pavonana. (http://www.cabi.org/cpc); and from Mike Furlong, University of Queensland, Australia. Photo 2 Department of Agriculture and Food, Government of Western Australia. (https://www.agric.wa.gov.au/cabbage/cabbage-head-caterpillar-cabbage-pest-indonesia). Photo 3 Mani Mua SPC, Sigatoka Research Station, Fiji.
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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