Cactus Moth Essay

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Non-Native Species: Cactus Moth 1. Common Name: Cactus Moth 2. Scientific Name: Cactoblastis Cactorum 3. Native To: Cactoblastis cactorum, also known as the Cactus Moth, is native to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and southern Brazil. 4. Date of U.S. Introduction: The moth is native to several South American countries. It was discovered in the Florida Keys in 1989 and has now spread north to South Carolina and east into Alabama. 5. Images 6. Means of Introduction: It was introduced into the Caribbean islands in the 1960’s to control several prickly-pear cactus species. The moth probably entered the United States more than once either on winds from nearby Caribbean islands or on imported cactus plants. 7. Impact: The cactus moth can kill most prickly pear cacti, in particular those species that have flat pads. In Florida, the cactus moth has already caused considerable harm to the six species of vulnerable prickly pears, three of which are state listed. In some places, 75% of the prickly pear cacti have been attacked by the moth, with small individuals at greatest risk of death from these attacks. Most of the peninsula from Gainesville south is now infested. The greatest threat is to the deserts of the American Southwest - from Texas to California - and Mexico. These deserts are home to 114 native species of Opuntia, about 80 of which are flat-padded species vulnerable to the cactus moth. In the difficult desert environment, prickly pears are a nutritious and reliable food supply for many wildlife species, including deer, javalina, Texas and desert tortoises, spiny iguana, and pollen-feeding insects. Prickly pears provide shelter for packrats - which in turn are eaten by raptors, coyotes, and snakes; and for nesting birds including the cactus wren and curve-billed thrasher. The cacti also are nurse plants, under which other desert

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