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Datasheet

Erionota thrax (banana skipper)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 04 January 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Erionota thrax
  • Preferred Common Name
  • banana skipper
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, upperside.
TitleAdult female, upperside
CaptionErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, upperside.
Copyright©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, upperside.
Adult female, uppersideErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, upperside.©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, underside.
TitleAdult female, underside
CaptionErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, underside.
Copyright©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, underside.
Adult female, undersideErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult female, underside.©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, upperside.
TitleAdult male, upperside
CaptionErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, upperside.
Copyright©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, upperside.
Adult male, uppersideErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, upperside.©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, underside.
TitleAdult male, underside
CaptionErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, underside.
Copyright©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Erionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, underside.
Adult male, undersideErionota thrax (palm redeye, banana skipper, banana leafroller); adult male, underside.©Matthew Cock/CABI-2014 - All Rights Reserved
Leaf roll opened to show almost full-grown larva of E. thrax; black pills to the left are accumulated droppings.
TitleLarva
CaptionLeaf roll opened to show almost full-grown larva of E. thrax; black pills to the left are accumulated droppings.
CopyrightR. de Jong
Leaf roll opened to show almost full-grown larva of E. thrax; black pills to the left are accumulated droppings.
LarvaLeaf roll opened to show almost full-grown larva of E. thrax; black pills to the left are accumulated droppings.R. de Jong
Banana leaves with rolls of larvae of E. thrax.
TitleLeaf roll
CaptionBanana leaves with rolls of larvae of E. thrax.
CopyrightR. de Jong
Banana leaves with rolls of larvae of E. thrax.
Leaf rollBanana leaves with rolls of larvae of E. thrax.R. de Jong

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Erionota thrax (Linnaeus, 1767)

Preferred Common Name

  • banana skipper

Other Scientific Names

  • Hidara thrax Linnaeus

Local Common Names

  • Philippines: banana leafroller

EPPO code

  • ERNTTH (Erionota thrax)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Hesperiidae
  •                             Genus: Erionota
  •                                 Species: Erionota thrax

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Erionota thrax was first described by Linnaeus as early as 1767. However, as shown by Evans (1941) there are two very similar species with partly overlapping ranges involved, E. thrax and E. torus Evans. Externally, adults of the two species can be distinguished only by the straight outer margin and acute apex of the forewing in E. thrax, and the more convex outer margin and rounded apex of the forewing in E. torus. The species differ considerably in the male genitalia (Evans, 1949; Inoué and Kawazoé, 1970). 

A further source of confusion is Erionota acroleucus (Wood-Mason & de Nicéville)(= E. hiraca (Moore)) which has a similar indigenous distribution to E. thrax and E. torus. Piepers and Snellen (1910) and other authors have confused the two species, making it uncertain to which species their biological observations pertain. In the Philippines, de Jong and Treadaway (1992) discovered and described yet another species, Erionota surprisa, very similar to and flying with the much rarer E. acroleucus.

The banana skipper has also sometimes been called Pelopidas thrax (Hübner) in the literature (e.g. Mau et al., 1977). This is a different species that occurs in Africa and from Turkey to Malaysia. It is a very different and much smaller hesperiid species; the larvae live on various grasses and it is a minor pest of millet and other Poaceae.

Description

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Descriptions of the early stages of E. thrax are provided in Piepers and Snellen (1910); Dammerman (1929); Dupont and Scheepmaker (1936); Kalshoven (1951) and Corbet and Pendlebury (1992).

Eggs
The eggs are conspicuously yellow. They are laid singly on the undersides of leaves, but a number of eggs may be deposited on the same leaf.

Larva
The larva has not been described in detail. It is pale green and clothed with short, silky hairs. The head is black, and heart-shaped in frontal view. As in all hesperiid larvae, there is a conspicuous 'neck': the thorax directly behind the head is much narrower than the head. The larva soon becomes covered with a white, waxy powder, a waste product of its metabolism. The full-grown larva reaches a length of about 6 cm.

Pupa
The slender pupa is yellow-brown and covered with the same waxy powder as the larva. It reaches a length of 4-6 cm, and has a long proboscis that reaches to the tip of the abdomen and is free from where it leaves the wing sheaths.

Adults
Adults are brown on the upper and under side. The wingspan is 5-5.5 cm in the male, 6-6.5 cm in the female. The apex of the forewing is acute and the outer margin straight (slightly convex in the female). The forewing has three conspicuous, pale-yellow, semi-hyaline spots, in space 2, space 3 and cell. The scales of these spots are perpendicular to the wing surface. The rectangular spot in space 2 is the largest. It is partly overlapped by the cell spot, which is also rectangular, but outwardly excavate (rounded in the Moluccas). The spot in space 3 is more or less triangular and isolated.

The same description applies to Erionota torus, except for the more rounded apex and the more convex outer margin of the forewing in the latter. In the male genitalia, E. thrax has an uncus with two divergent arms, whereas in E. torus the uncus is broad and shallowly indented at the apex. Moreover, the aedeagus is very much wider in E. torus.

Externally, Erionota acroleucus and E. surprisa are also very similar to E. thrax, but the wingspan is about 1 cm less. The males of the first two species are further characterized by a well-defined, white apex to the forewing, on the upper side. The three species can easily be distinguished by the male genitalia. The uncus of E. acroleucus resembles the uncus of E. thrax, but in E. surprisa the uncus has no side arms (present in the other two species, as well as in E. torus) and there is a long central prong of the tegumen reaching to the end of the uncus (absent in the other species). The cucullus of E. acroleucus is apically indented, whereas it is entire and more or less pointed in E. thrax.

Distribution

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The most comprehensive information on the distribution of E. thrax is found in Evans (1949), who listed the material present in the Natural History Museum, London, UK. Evans recognized three subspecies: E. thrax subsp. thrax from North-East India to the northern Philippines, Sulawesi and Lesser Sunda Islands; E. thrax subsp. mindana from the central and southern Philippines, and E. thrax subsp. hasdrubal from the North Moluccas. De Jong and Treadaway (1993) provided more detailed information on the distribution in the Philippines, and showed that in northern Luzon there is a fourth subspecies, E. thrax subsp. alexandra.

Wynter-Blyth (1957) gave the range of E. thrax in India and neighbouring countries as 'Dun to Calcutta, Assam and Myanmar, South India', and remarked that it is very rare in southern India. The record of 'Dun to Calcutta' probably relates to the very similar Erionota torus. According to Smith (1994), records from Nepal probably all relate to E. torus, but in view of the occurrence of E. thrax in Sikkim the occurrence of this species in eastern Nepal cannot be ruled out. Haribal (1992) listed E. thrax (and E. torus) from Sikkim without comment. The same holds for Pinratana (1985) with regard to Thailand; Lekagul et al. (1977) recorded it as seasonally common in the plains of Thailand, but they appear to have confused the two species as they did not mention E. torus. Motono and Negishi (1989) found E. thrax to be a rare insect in Laos. Evans (1949) mentioned a female from 'Indo-China', but there is no further information on the distribution of E. thrax in Indochina. The species is common on the plains in Peninsular Malaysia (as is E. torus) (Corbet and Pendlebury, 1992).

E. thrax was recorded for the first time from the Andaman Islands, where numbers were low (Veenakumari and Mohanraj, 1991). It is found practically everywhere in Indonesia where cultivated or wild Musa is grown (Kalshoven, 1951) and is known from all of the major islands and many of the smaller islands (Evans, 1949; and specimens held at the Natural History Museum, London, UK, and the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, Netherlands). Piepers and Snellen (1910) recorded it from Java from sea level to 2200 m, but as these authors confused E. thrax and E. hiraca, it is not certain that the first species covers the whole range. Although widespread in Indonesia, it has not been found in the South Moluccas with the exception of Ambon, where it may be a relatively recent introduction (specimen held in the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, Netherlands), the Lesser Sunda Islands, east of Flores (specimen held in the Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, Netherlands). Although it has not been recorded from Irian Jaya, it must occur there as it now occurs throughout mainland Papua New Guinea as an introduced species.

Geographical records outside this distribution area relate to introductions. The first recorded introduction was in 1956 into Guam, followed by Saipan in 1960 (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). The first specimen of Papua New Guinea was caught in 1961 (Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, Leiden, Netherlands), but the species only became established in 1983, and since 1987 it has spread throughout the mainland (Sands and Sands, 1991). Ito and Nakamori (1986) mentioned the species (as Pelopidas thrax) from Okinawa, Japan, but this is a misidentification for E. torus. In 1973, the species became established in Hawaii (Nakao and Funasaki, 1974 (1976); Mau et al., 1977; Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). It has been reported from Mauritius, where the species was stated to have become established as early as 1968 (Monty and Ghauri, 1977) but this seems to be a misidentification for E. torus (Cock, 2015). The pest is introduced through young plants carrying eggs or by fertilized females hiding between the fruits. In the latter case, the crepuscular habit of E. thrax may be important; the adults are attracted to lights used when trucks are loaded at dusk.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

Brunei DarussalamPresentMaruyama, 1991; Waterhouse, 1993
CambodiaPresentNHM, undated; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
ChinaPresentEPPO, 2014
-FujianPresentEPPO, 2014
-GuangdongPresentEPPO, 2014
-HeilongjiangPresentEPPO, 2014
-Hong KongPresentEPPO, 2014
-JilinPresentEPPO, 2014
-LiaoningPresentEPPO, 2014
IndiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentVeenakumari and Mohanraj, 1991
-AssamPresentEvans, 1949; Wynter-Blyth, 1957; CIE, 1981; EPPO, 2014
-ManipurPresentPrasad and Singh, 1987Observations could refer to either E. thrax or E. torus.
-SikkimPresentEvans, 1949; CIE, 1981; Haribal, 1992; EPPO, 2014
-Uttar PradeshAbsent, invalid recordCIE, 1981; EPPO, 2014Previous records based on misidentification of E. torus.
IndonesiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-JavaPresentEvans, 1949; Kalshoven, 1951; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
-KalimantanWidespreadMaruyama, 1991
-MoluccasPresentEvans, 1949; EPPO, 2014
-SulawesiWidespreadVane-Wright & de Jong, 2003; Evans, 1949; Kalshoven, 1951; Maruyama, 1991
-SumatraPresentKalshoven, 1951; Kalshoven and van, 1981; EPPO, 2014
Japan
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoAbsent, invalid recordIto and Nakamori, 1986Previous record based on misidentification of E. torus.
LaosPresentCIE, 1981; Motono and Negishi, 1989; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
MalaysiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentCIE, 1981; Corbet and Pendlebury, 1992; EPPO, 2014
-SabahPresentCIE, 1981; Maruyama, 1991; EPPO, 2014
-SarawakPresentCIE, 1981; Maruyama, 1991; EPPO, 2014
MyanmarPresentEvans, 1949; CIE, 1981; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
PhilippinesPresentDe Jong & Treadaway,1993; CIE, 1981; EPPO, 2014; Hardy and Lawrence, 2017
SingaporePresentCIE, 1981; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
ThailandPresentCIE, 1981; Pinratana, 1985; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014
VietnamPresentCIE, 1981; Waterhouse, 1993; EPPO, 2014

Africa

MauritiusAbsent, invalid recordMonty, 1970; Davis and Barnes, 1991; EPPO, 2014Previous record based on misidentification of E. torus.

North America

USAPresentEPPO, 2014
-HawaiiPresentNakao and Funasaki, 1974; Anon., 1977; EPPO, 2014

Oceania

GuamPresentEPPO, 2014
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentWaterhouse and Norris, 1989Saipan.
Papua New GuineaPresentSands et al., 1991; Sands et al., 1993; EPPO, 2014

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Andaman and Nicobar Islands by 1991 Yes No Veenakumari and Mohanraj, 1991 Identification of the pest needs checking (Cock, 2015).
Guam by 1957 Yes No Gressitt, 1958; Muniappan, 1984 Assumed reason for introduction. Possibly introduced from the Philippines.
Hawaii Guam by 1973 Military movements (pathway cause) Yes No Davis and Kawamura, 1975 Assumed reason for introduction
Hawaii Hawaii 1974 Yes No Nakao and Funasaki, 1976, publ. 1979; Riotte and Uchida, 1979 Oahu to Maui, and Oahu to Kauai.
Hawaii Hawaii 1975 Yes No Nakao and Funasaki, 1976, publ. 1979; Riotte and Uchida, 1979 Oahu to Hawaii (Big Island), Oahu to Molokoi, Oahu to Lanai.
Irian Jaya before 1983 Yes No Waterhouse and Norris, 1989
Northern Mariana Islands Guam  late 1960s Military movements (pathway cause) Yes No Waterhouse and Norris, 1989 Saipan. Assumed reason for introduction.
Papua New Guinea 1983 Yes No Waterhouse and Norris, 1989 mainland PNG. Probably spread from Irian Jaya.
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 1991 Yes No Sands et al., 1993 Mainland PNG to New Britain, PNG.
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea by 1994 No Yes Waterhouse et al., 1998 PNG to Duke of York Island, PNG.
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea by 1994 Yes No Waterhouse et al., 1998 PNG to New Ireland, PNG.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat
Disturbed areas Principal habitat
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Principal habitat
Rail / roadsides Principal habitat
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural forests Principal habitat

Hosts/Species Affected

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The larvae of E. thrax are found commonly on both cultivated and wild bananas. The larvae have been reported on various palm species including coconut, oil palm, sugar palm (Arenga pinnata), sago palm (Metroxylon sp.) and rattan palms (Calamus spp.). However, after an exhaustive review of these records, Cock (2015) concluded that all records of E. thrax (and E. torus) from palms should be considered misidentifications for E. acroleucus. Furthermore, records from Poaceae and Fabaceae were not accepted, although several records from Zingiberales (Strelitziaceae, Heliconiaceae) were provisionally accepted. Given the extensive confusion between the three species, particularly in the applied literature, all records from plants other than Musa spp., would benefit from new documentation supported by voucher specimens.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Musa (banana)MusaceaeMain
Musa textilis (manila hemp)MusaceaeMain
Musa x paradisiaca (plantain)MusaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top of page Parts of the leaves of banana trees are incised and rolled up. The roll of a full-grown larva may be up to 15 cm long.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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Leaves

  • leaves rolled or folded

Biology and Ecology

Top of page All information on the life history relates to specimens found on banana trees. It is doubtful that the life cycle can be completed on palms in view of the typical behaviour of the larva of making large leaf rolls and of the adult of breaking the pupal case to escape.

The life history has been described by several authors, but often older observations are copied and not all information in the literature is authentic. The description here is mainly based on Dammerman (1929) and Kalshoven (1951) whose observations were made in Java, Indonesia. Regional or local differences solely concern the length of the various stages. Ooi (1988) and Corbet and Pendlebury (1992) provide data from Malaysia, and Igarashi and Fukuda (2000) for India.

One or several eggs (maximum of 40) are laid on the underside of a leaf. The larva hatches after 5-8 days. The young larva makes an oblique incision in the edge of the leaf. By spinning strong threads it rolls up the incised part of the leaf into a shelter in which it hides and feeds. Mortality due to showers is high among young larvae as the case is open and the larvae are not otherwise protected against the rain. When the incised part of the leaf becomes too dry for food, the larva leaves the case and makes a new and bigger one in another part of the same leaf. The incisions made by the full-grown larva, which are 5-6 cm long, may reach the midrib of the leaf. When several larvae are living from the same leaf, nothing will remain but the midrib with large cigar-shaped cases hanging from it. The larvae are pale green, but from the second instar the larvae, with the exception of the black head, are entirely covered by a white, waxy powder that can easily be rubbed off. This powder is a waste product of larval metabolism which protects the larvae from rain water (such waxy cover is common among skippers). The older larvae remain close to the top of the case to prevent rain water entering. The larval stage lasts about 3-4 weeks.

The full-grown larva pupates in its final case. With the head up, it anchors its abdomen with the cremaster in strong spun threads; the case becomes less accessible from the underside, where larval droppings accumulate. The pupa is also covered with the waxy secretion. It is up to 6 cm long. The proboscis sheath is very long, reaching the end of the abdomen, and is free from where it leaves the wing sheaths to the end, and not fused to the remainder of the pupa. On provocation, the pupa wriggles violently, making an audible noise in the dry pupal case. The pupal stage lasts for 8-12 days.

Emergence takes place within the pupal shelter. The newly-emerged butterfly crawls to the top of the case where it remains, head-up, until the wings are stretched and hardened. The butterfly has to leave the case through the side wall as the larva closes the top of the case, and threads and frass hamper emergence at the other end. During the pupal period, the case has become dry and brittle. The conveniently parallel side veins of the leaf make it possible for the butterfly to break through the wall without having to break through a vein. The entire life cycle lasts 5-6 weeks.

The butterflies are not as commonly encountered as may be anticipated from their size and the commonly found larvae. This is because they are crepuscular, visiting flowers at dusk. The adults are attracted by light and are sometimes found in dwelling houses.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agiommatus Parasite Eggs
Agiommatus sumatraensis Parasite Eggs
Anastatus Parasite Eggs
Blepharipa Larvae
Brachymeria Parasite Pupae
Brachymeria euploeae Parasite Pupae
Brachymeria lasus Parasite Pupae
Brachymeria thracis Parasite Pupae
Casinaria Parasite Larvae
Charops Parasite Larvae
Cordyceps Pathogen Larvae
Cotesia erionotae Parasite Larvae Muniappan, 1984; Nafus and Schreiner, 1989; Nakao and Funasaki, 1976, publ. 1979; Nakao et al., 1975; Sands et al., 1993; Schreiner and Nafus, 1986; Stevens and Kikuchi, 1978; Syed, 1974 Guam, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Saipan banana
Echthromorpha agrestoria Parasite Larvae
Elasmus Parasite Larvae
Elasmus brevicornis Hyperparasite Larvae
Elasmus philippinensis Parasite Larvae
Leurocerus ovivorus Parasite Eggs
Ooencyrtus Parasite Eggs
Ooencyrtus pallidipes Parasite Eggs Nakao and Funasaki, 1976, publ. 1979; Nakao et al., 1975 Hawaii
Pediobius Parasite Pupae
Pediobius erionotae Parasite Eggs
Scenocharops Parasite Larvae Nakao and Funasaki, 1976, publ. 1979; Syed, 1974 Hawaii
Sympiesis Parasite Larvae
Theronia zebra Parasite Pupae
Trichogramma Parasite Eggs
Xanthopimpla Parasite Pupae
Xanthopimpla gampsura Parasite Pupae
Xanthopimpla regina Parasite Pupae

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In Indonesia, where E. thrax is indigenous, egg, larval and pupal parasites together kill about 94% of the population before it reaches the adult stage (Ashari and Eveleens, 1974). Egg parasites, such as Ooencyrtus erionotae [O. pallidipes], Agiommatus sp. and Anastatus sp., are responsible for 50-70% mortality of the eggs in Java (Kalshoven, 1951). Larval parasites in Indonesia include Cotesia erionotae, Elasmus brevicornis and Elasmus philippinensis (Dammerman, 1929; Kalshoven, 1951). According to Kalshoven (1951), the larval parasites, together with a tachinid fly (possibly a Sturmia sp.) kill no more than about 10% of the larvae in Java. According to Corbet and Pendlebury (1992), C. erionotae is a natural check of E. thrax in the Peninsular Malaysia. This parasite also occurs in Thailand, but there are no records of its impact on the population of E. thrax. Pupal parasites in Indonesia include Brachymeria euploeae, Xanthopimpla sp. and a tachinid fly (Dammerman, 1929Ashari and Eveleens, 1974).

Waterhouse and Norris (1989) summarized the available information on the natural enemies of E. thrax, many only identified to genus or family. However, in his review, Cock (2015) concluded that published records would not have separated natural enemies of E. thrax from those of E. torus where they occur together in mainland South-East Asia. Hence records of natural enemies of E. thrax should only be accepted without reservations from localities where E. torus does not occur; many records could refer to either or both host species. Hence, the species listed in the table of natural enemies are accepted as correctly recorded from E. thrax.

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes
Hitchhiker Yes Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Aircraft Yes
Bulk freight or cargo Yes Yes
Land vehicles Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves eggs; larvae; pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Negative

Impact

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The pest status of E. thrax was described early in the 20th Century (Dammerman, 1919, 1929). According to Corbet and Pendlebury (1992) the very similar Erionota torus has the same life history, and some of the records in the literature may relate to this species. For example, Zhang (1994) mentioned Hong Kong and the Chinese province of Guangdong, where only E. torus is known (Hill et al., 1978; Johnston and Johnston, 1980).

E. thrax is not a pest over all of its geographical range. Apart from the areas where it has been introduced, it is only known as a pest in north-east India (Prasad and Singh, 1987), Malaysia (Khoo et al., 1991) and Indonesia (Ashari and Eveleens, 1974).

Drought conditions favour outbreaks in Malaysia (Kalshoven, 1951; Kalshoven and van der Laan, 1981). Heavy infestations can lead to complete defoliation of banana trees, but such outbreaks are sporadic. Heavy loss of foliage results in bananas of inferior quality, but there is limited accurate information on this type of damage. Heavily damaged or defoliated trees are less suitable for vegetative multiplication. Even with lighter infestation, the leaves of the banana tree become useless as wrapping material. Cultivations of Musa textilis can be severely damaged, as was found in southern Sumatra (Kalshoven, 1951; Kalshoven and van der Laan, 1981). 

Risk and Impact Factors

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Detection and Inspection

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The presence of E. thrax is easily detected by the presence of leaf rolls, but cannot be distinguished from similar damage caused by E. torus. An attack can be detected at a very early stage as the larvae start making the rolls shortly after hatching from the egg. The cases of the larvae soon become large enough to be visible from a distance of several metres. As deserted leaf rolls remain on the plant, the roll must be opened to check for the presence of the larva. Shipped young plants should be inspected for eggs and small leaf rolls.

Prevention and Control

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Introduction

Natural enemies generally keep populations of E. thrax under control, even in areas where it does not occur naturally. In case of an outbreak, hand-removal of the easily found leaf rolls is the best option for control; however, if this is not possible, chemical treatment directed at the newly-hatched larvae may be effective, but is seldom required (Ashari and Eveleens, 1974).

Biological Control

There have been several programmes of biological control against E. thrax (Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea) and E. torus (Mauritius, Taiwan). Waterhouse and Norris (1989) provide a review of the earlier programmes against E. torus and E. thrax. There are numerous natural enemies in the indigenous range of E. thrax, and several have been used as biological control agents.

Based on the programme already carried out for Mauritius (purportedly on E. thrax but actually on E. torus) when E. thrax appeared in Hawaii, a biological control programme was immediately started (Waterhouse and Norris, 1989). In 1973, O. pallidipes was introduced from Guam where it seemed to be an accidental introduction itself, and in 1974 Cotesia erionotae was introduced and released, initially from Thailand (early 1974) and then from Sabah (late 1974). The population of C. erionotae from Sabah would have been collected from E. thrax only, because E. torus does not occur there, whereas that from Thailand is likely to have been reared from both E. thrax and E. torus. Control in Hawaii was rapid, and the strain of C. erionotae from Thailand was probably already established and bringing the pest under control before that from Sabah was released. In 1974, C. erionotae cultures of the Thailand strain were sent from Hawaii to Guam, and from Guam to Saipan in 1974-75, in both cases giving good control (Muniappan, 1984; Waterhouse and Norris, 1989).

E. thrax may have spread into Irian Jaya before 1983 as it appeared by the border in north-western mainland Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1983, and then spread rapidly through the island over 5 years, and started to colonise the other islands of PNG (Sands et al., 1991). It spread together with its egg-parasitoid, O. pallidipes. However, control was not adequate with the egg parasitoid alone, and so C. erionotae from Guam was introduced after quarantine safety tests (Sands et al., 1993). This rapidly resulted in good biological control of the pest. The programme in PNG was supported by ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research), who subsequently funded assessments of the benefits to PNG and Australia (Waterhouse et al., 1998) and the impact on poverty in PNG (Bauer et al., 2003).

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18/12/14 Updated by:

Matthew Cock, CABI, Egham, UK.

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