Pineapple Pests

Common Name: Thecla moth, Elaphria moth

Latin Name: Thecla basilides, Elaphria nucicolora
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Thecla: Lycaenidae; Elaphria: Noctuidae

Main Host(s): Pineapple; for Elaphria also sugarcane

Life Cycle

T. basilides and E. nucicolora are major pests of pineapples in the tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico, Central and South America. Thecla also occurs on wild hosts (Bromeliacea), as well as corn and cacao. Elaphria is found in the more (sub)-tropical regions of the Americas, including South-Eastern US, Caribbean and tropical South America. It counts as host plants sugarcane, watermelon and wild herbs. E. nucicolora is also called the sugarcane midget moth.

Thecla females lay single eggs on upper and middle fruitlet bracts. The eggs hatch in five days and the young larvae bore into the pineapple inflorescence. Thecla larvae generally damage the developing fruit in weeks 7-12, prior to flowering and well thereafter. No eggs are laid on mature fruit. Elaphria becomes a problem in weeks 10-15 of pineapple fruit development. 

Impact & Damage

Elaphria nucicolora
Thecla damageThecla Damage

Thecla larvae bore into the fruit making galleries, causing fruit deformities. These galleries allow Fusarium subglutinans disease to enter the fruit, leading to more damage. The damage done by Elaphria larvae consist of scraping the surface of the developing fruit causing so called gummosis.

Recommended Control

For control of Thecla, growers should start with a spray of DiPel® in the pineapple pest control program generally begun in the seventh week after induction of flowering, followed up with a traditional insecticide and then rotate back to DiPel seven to 10 days later. This rotation continues throughout the time when the two pests are a threat, with the DiPel applications continuing up until harvest when a no-residue product is needed. For Elaphria control, XenTari® is recommended and a similar rotational program is used.

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