Photo 2. Close-up of mines on noni containing larvae of Antispila species. Note oval missing areas of leaf cut by larvae before falling out on silken threads to pupate on bark or leaves on soil.
Noni shield-bearer moth. This fact sheet is a draft awaiting identification of the moth. Noni, Morinda citrifolia, is a fruit-bearing tree in the coffee family, Rubicaeae, used as a traditional medicine.
Possibily, Antispila species. A moth in the Heliozelidae.
Widespread. South Asia (India), East Asia (China, Japan), Africa (Madagascar), North and South America, Europe, Oceania, It is reorded from Australia, and Tonga.
Noni; no other host has been recorded for this moth in Tonga.
The larvae of the moth make extensive mines in the leaves of noni trees (Photo 1). Like other shield-bearer moths, it is likely that eggs are laid into the underside of the leaves, and the larvae eat out (mine) the tissue between the upper and lower epidermis. The mines are at first curled; later, they expand to form blotches (Photos 2&3).
The legless larvae with dark heads are clearly seen within the mines, either one or two being present (Photo 2). When mature, the larvae cut distinctive shield-shaped cases from the leaf, and drop down on a silken thread attaching the case to bark, a leaf or some other object, to pupate, leaving behind a characteristic pattern of scattered holes, approximately 6 mm diameter. The adult is small, metallic, day-flying, with a shiny smooth head. There are incomplete white bands across the wings, broadening to the edges, contrasted against a dark-grey background. The hind hings are heavily fringed.
Leaves of noni trees are heavily infested with leaf mines, and develop numerous holes. Leaves are so damaged that they likely drop early, but whether the damage impacts on yield of fruit is unknown.
Look for the characteristic mines and holes in the leaves.
There is insufficient evidence that the damage by the leafminer is sufficinet to warrant control measures.
AUTHOR Grahame Jackson, Mani Mua & Emeline Ahoafi
Information from Charley Eiseman (2019) Leafminer of North America (1st Edition). (http://charleyeiseman.com/leafminers/); and Antispila. Wikipedia. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antispila); and from Miller L et al. (2018) A preliminary molecular phylogeny of shield-bearer moths (Lepidoptera: Adeloidea: Heliozelidae) highlights rich undescribed diversity. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 120:129-143.
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