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Cactus Moth

The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum (Berg), is a major pest of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia spp.). Cactus moth larvae live and feed inside the pads of prickly pear cacti. Voracious feeding by cactus moth larvae results in the destruction of entire stands of prickly pear cactus. 

Native to South America, the cactus moth first appeared in the USA in 1989 in the Florida Keys. Since its initial introduction, the cactus moth has spread throughout the coastal areas of the southeastern USA.  Cactus moth was first detected in Texas in 2017 in Brazoria county and has since been found in Matagorda, Colorado, and Chambers counties.  Adult cactus moths have been known to disperse naturally a maximum of 16 miles. Commercial sales of infected cacti, as well as weather events, could spread the larvae and eggs greater distances.

This invasive pest gravely threatens the native prickly pear cacti in Texas. TDA urges nurseries, county extension agents, master gardener associations, and the general public to actively scout for this pest on prickly pear cactus.  If cactus moth is found, please immediately notify TDA by calling 512-463-7660 or emailing PlantQuality@TexasAgriculture.gov.

How to Spot Cactus Moth