Prays citri

Scientific Name Prays citri Millière
Synonyms It has been discussed in the past whether Prays nephelomina Meyrick is a synonym for Prays citri, but it is now considered a different species.
Common Names English: Citrus flower moth; German: Zitrusmotte; Spanish: Polilla de los cítricos; French: Teigne du citronnier; Italian: Tignola degli agrumi; Portuguese: Traça dos citrinos
Description The adult is a small moth with gray-brown wings that span 10-12 mm (0.39 - 0.48 inch) and are heavily fringed. Young larvae are nearly colorless. The body of older larvae becomes pale brownish-white and reaches about 6-7 mm (0.23 - 0.27 inch) in length.

Biology

Damage

The young larvae of P. citri bore into flower buds and young flowers to feed on the reproductive organs inside. After these have been eaten, the caterpillar moves on to the next bud. The damaged inflorescences will dry up and die. As soon as formation of fruits begins, these are penetrated in a similar way. On older, more developed fruits, galleries are gnawed into the skin that may cause gum to exude from the wounds. Damaged fruits will be deformed or will remain exceptionnaly small, and will often fall off. They are partly hollowed out, soiled with frass and therefore unmarketable.
When flowers or young fruits are no longer available, young shoots and leaves are attacked, too. Wherever they feed, the caterpillars cover the plant parts with a web of silken threads.

Lifecycle

P. citri females lay about 60-150 eggs. These are deposited singly, 1-3 on each flower or bud, and sometimes on young fruits. About 4-6 days later, the hatching larvae bore directly from the egg into the plant. Over a period of 2-4 weeks, they moult 5 times and then pupate inside a very loose, frayed white cocoon somewhere near to their feeding site. After about 1 week, the adults emerge, and they mate shortly afterwards: 2-5 hours later, oviposition begins. The female lives 5-30 days, depending on temperature. It feeds on sugary substances and is mostly active at dusk.
Depending on climatic conditions, P. citri has 3-16 generations each season. All stages can be found side-by-side. In winter and spring, population density is low. High temperatures are favorable for development, but this almost ceases below 10°C (50°F).

Occurrence

Additional Crop Information

Citrus, especially lime and lemon and to a lesser degree, orange.

Agricultural Importance

The citrus flower moth is widespread in the Mediterranian region and present in some parts of Africa. This species is very similar to - and therefore easily confused with - other members of the genus Prays, especially P. nephelomina. It is still being discussed whether findings of P. citri reported from Asia, Australia and Oceania might not in fact relate to P. nephelomina.
In the Mediterranean region, P. citri is a serious pest. Flower losses of up to 90% have occurred, resulting in significant yield reduction. In other geographic areas, its importance varies considerably.

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