Photo by Carol Page, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Grass anthelid is a strikingly hairy caterpillar that feeds on grasses and can damage all cereals. Larvae often feed on grasses and numbers usually build up in pastures; consequently inspect the edges of susceptible paddocks of cereal crops. It is considered a minor, restricted and irregular pest widely distributed across southern Australia.
Associated with roadside vegetation or neighbouring pastures and can move into crops in late winter/early spring.
The grass anthelid is a widely distributed Lepidopteran native to Australia and found in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia. It is considered a minor and restricted pest that occurs irregularly.
Larvae of this genus are sometimes called “woolly bear caterpillars”. They are brown with black, fawn and yellow markings and covered with tufts of stout hairs. The hairs can sometimes cause skin irritation. They can grow to 50 mm in length. Male moths are buff fawn with brown markings and have large feathered antennae and a wingspan of 30-40 mm. Female adults are approximately 20 mm, dark brown in colour, hairy and flightless with only vestigial wings. Little is known about the taxonomy of the Pterolocera genus.
Grass anthelids have one generation per year. Caterpillar numbers increase in winter in grasslands or pastures before invading crops. The later instar larvae are the most damaging to crops. Grass anthelid larvae spin a dark brown cocoon in a vertical shaft in the soil. The emergence exit is just below the surface in the form of a silk tube leading to the surface. Adult female moths are flightless.
In situations where anthelid densities are high, caterpillars will form a frontal band moving across a pasture leaving it completely bare behind them.
Similar to Top
Unlikely to be confused with other caterpillars that damage cereal crops because of their conspicuously hairy appearance.
Crops attacked Top
All cereals and grass pasture.
When grass anthelids move into the edges of cereal crops in late winter/early spring they can cause defoliation of plants.
Little is known about this pest. To monitor, inspect the edges of susceptible paddocks adjacent to grasslands, pastures or roadside vegetation, especially in late winter/early spring.
Economic thresholds Top
There have been no thresholds developed.
Management options Top
With little known about this pest, the only known control is the use of pyrethroid insecticides that provide effective control (Bailey, 2007).
This article was compiled by Bill Kimber (SARDI).
References/Further Reading Top
Bailey PT. 2007. Pests of field crops and pastures: Identification and Control. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, Australia.
Henry K, Bellati J, Umina P and Wurst M. 2008. Crop Insects: the Ute Guide Southern Grain Belt Edition. Government of South Australia PIRSA and GRDC.
|January 2015||1.0||Bill Kimber (SARDI)||Garry McDonald (cesar)|
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