Epimeces detexta (Walker)
The most common looper in Florida is Epimeces detexta. This looper is the larva of a medium-sized grey or greyish-white moth. Young larvae are 0.6 cm. or less in size and usually grey or greyish black, they grow rapidly to 3 to 4 cm in length. Older larvae are generally or greenish-yellow in color. Larvae feed also on flower panicles, even fruit, but prefer the tender growth in the upper part of the tree. Looper infestations appear to be somewhat seasonal are more severe in spring summer, generally becoming less of a problem in fall winter.
Part of plant damaged: Leaves
The adult moth is short lived and mates and oviposits soon after emergence from pupa. Eggs are laid in narrow elongated masses preferentially on needles of Australian pine (Casuarina sp.) and they hatch in about 5 days. The larvae grow rapidly and pupate 17-22 days after egg hatch. The pupal stage can last 10 days. Thus a full generation is expected to last between 34-37 days. Pupae drop to the ground and the adult emerges in 12 days to start the cycle over. Some avocados are culled because of damage from feeding on the fruit by two or three kinds of small caterpillars.
Native natural enemies of E. detexta include the predators Calleida decora (Fabricius), Podisus maculiventris (Say). Alcaerrhynchus grandis (Dallas), Parapanteles sp., andTrichospilus diatreae Cherian are natural enemies of E. matronaria, A. defectaria and O.v. transponens, respectively (Peña et al.,1996). In Florida, several attempts to introduce exotic biological control agents, i.e., Telenomus sp., and Trichogramma platneri Nagarkatti have failed
Lannate 90 WP, Lannate 1.8 L liquid, Permethrin (Pounce 3.2 EC Ambush 2 EC), Bacillus thuringiensis are recommended in Florida for control of the avocado Looper. Pyrellin (pyrethrins + rotenone) is legal for use against caterpillars. The WP is applied at 1/2 - 1 lb 90% powder/acre. The liquid 1.8 is applied at 2-4 pints per acre. (B.t.s) is sold under several trade names has effect on certain types of caterpillars. is cleared for use on avocados. (Peña and Johnson 1999).
Peña, J., and Johnson, F. (1999). Insect management of avocados. Insect Management Guide, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida; http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/Body_IG068.
Peña, J.E., R., Baranowski, and Nadel, H. (1996) Pest management of tropical fruit trees in Florida. In: Rosen, D., Bennett, F. and Capinera, J. (eds.)Pest management in the subtropics-Integrated Pest Management-A Florida Perspective. Intercept, Andover, UK. 349-370.