Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Coconut spike moth (111)

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  • Narrow distribution. Southeast Asia. On coconut and oil palm, mostly. There are conflicting views on whether this moth is a pest. Nut fall occurs naturally, with the number adjusted to reserves of the palm; if the moth accounts for 10% then natural nutfall will be less, so that the overall effect on yield is negligible.
  •  Eggs are laid at the base of flowers and leaves; the larvae bore into female flowers causing them to fall.
  • Natural enemies: wasp parastoids are known.
  • Cultural control: in the Philippines MAWA hybrids are thought to be more susceptible.
  • Chemical control: none recommended: unlikely to be economic, and insecticides will kill the parasitoids. Additionally, the pest status of this insect is uncertain
Common Name

Coconut spike moth, oil palm bunch moth

Scientific Name

Tirathaba rufivena, but probably at least three species exist.

AUTHOR Gahame Jackson
1Information from Waterhouse DF, Norris KR (1987) Tirathaba rufivena (Walker). Biological Control Pacific Prospects. Inkata Press; and 2Swaine G (1971) Agricultural Zoology in Fiji. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. London; and from CABI (2019) Tirathaba rufivena (coconut spike moth). Crop Protection Compendium. ( Photo 1 Gerald McCormack, Cook Islands Biodiversity & Natural Heritage. (

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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