Arenipses sabella Hampson
Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Lepidoptera, Pyralidae.
Common name: Greater date moth.
Geographical distribution: North Africa, Iran. Iraq, Middle East.
Host plants: The date palm, Phoenix dactylifera L..
Morphology: The adult is a large (1.5-2.0 cm), grayish moth; the larva is dark grey to rose-like and may reach a length of 2.5 cm.
Life cycle: At 30°C a generation is completed in 5-6 weeks, and the adults live for another week. Each female lays 200-440 eggs, mostly at night. In Israel the pest raises four annual generations, but only two (in the spring, when they attack the new growth, and in the autumn, when they feed on fruit) are of economic importance. The larvae of the autumn generation diapause in winter, emerging in spring.
Economic importance: The larvae feed on young leaves, fluorescences, green fruit and burrow into fronds. Such fronds may deteriorate, the damage being enhanced by the invasion of secondary plant pathogens. The extent of injury is variable, severe in certain years, negligible in others. In Israel most damage has been reported from northern date plantations.
Monitoring: The presence of larvae, which may tunnel to a length of 10 cm, can be determined from the excreted webs that include the brown fecal pellets.
Cultural control: Damage (of this and other fruit moths) may partially be reduced by early harvesting and by wrapping the date bunches in nets.
Chemical control: Although the spring-generation insects cause most of the damage, they are well hidden within the trees and thus seldom killed by chemicals. They are, however, affected by pesticides applied against other pests, like Batrachedra amydraula Meyrick and Coccotrypes dactyliperda Fabricius. The autumn-generation pests are controlled by pyrethroids, when applied against other date moths.
Donahaye, E. and Calderon, M. 1964. Survey of insects infesting dates in storage in Israel. Israel Journal of Agricultural Research 14: 97-100.
Kehat, M. and Greenberg, S. 1969. The biology and phenology of Arenipses sabella Hmps. and Cadra figulilella (Gregson) (Lepidoptera, Pyralidae) on dates in Israel. Bulletin of Entomological Research 58: 411-419.
Carpenter, J. B. and Elmer, H. S. 1978. Pests and diseases of the date palm. USDA.Agriculture Handbook No. 527.
Dr. Daniel Blumberg. Email: email@example.com
Department of Entomology; Agricultural research Organization; The Volcani Center; P. O. Box 6, Bet Dagan 50250; Israel.