Mango shoot looper

Page last updated: Thursday, 14 April 2022 - 2:01pm

Mango shoot looper is an invasive pest of mango and lychee (or litchi) trees. Rambutan, longan, cashew and pistachio trees can also be affected by this plant pest.

Mango shoot looper (MSL; Perixera cf. illepidaria) is an exotic moth species from Asia detected for the first time Australia in late 2021, when it was found in Queensland. It was subsequently found in the Northern Territory in early 2022.

This exotic pest is a threat to both the commercial mango industry, as well as backyard growers.

About mango shoot looper

Infestations of MSL may reduce yields and cause substantial stress on plants. In the case of severe infestations, it can cause the death of the trees. In far north Queensland, the caterpillars have been observed causing significant damage on mango plants, which includes totally stripping back flowers and damaging young fruit.

Larvae which vary in colour from yellow, brown to black with a mottled “tiger” patterned appearance move onto the leaves to feed, when mature they can be up to 22mm in length. Larvae move in a “looping” fashion and can move to undamaged areas of the tree by suspending themselves on silken threads and dropping between branches.

The pupae have a distinctive elongated triangular appearance, they are initially green turning brown as they mature and are up to 9 mm in length. They are likely to be found in old spider webs as well as on the leaves. This pest will be a problem mostly during the flowering season.

Adult female moths are pinkish in colour and the males are very pale brown or pinkish fawn. Males and females have three rows of brown patterns on the wings the last two having dark brown spots interspersed along the length. Their wingspan is about 20 millimetres across.

Adult MSLs can fly and spread naturally in localised areas from tree to tree. Their spread may be enhanced by strong winds.

Being prepared for mango shoot looper

Regularly monitor mango trees for MSL on leaves and/or flower panicles for larger caterpillars. A simple sampling method for small larvae is to vigorously shake flower panicles or new flush into a tray or bucket.

Although MSL can disperse by flying, they also hitchhike on infested plant material and vehicles.  As part of on-farm biosecurity it is important to restrict movement of plant material. Take steps to protect your property from MSL by ensuring you have an effective biosecurity measures in place.

It is good practice to implement biosecurity measures onto your property, to reduce and prevent biosecurity risks. Information about how to protect your crops can be found at: https://www.farmbiosecurity.com.au/industry/fruit-nuts/

For more general information on on-farm biosecurity measures to implement on your property please contact us on 08 8999 2118 or email plantbiosecurity@nt.gov.au

Report signs of mango shoot looper

Inspect mango and lychee trees for caterpillars.

If you suspect a Mango shoot looper infestation, you must report it by phoning the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

You can report signs of MSL directly to the department via the MyPestGuide® Reporter app or to its Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (0)8 9368 3080, email padis@dpird.wa.gov.au

Contact information

Pest and Disease Information Service (PaDIS)
+61 (0)8 9368 3080