Leaf skeletoniser (Leucoplema dohertyi)
The leaf skeletoniser is normally a minor pest but severe outbreaks could occur especially in nurseries.
The adult is a grey and brown moth with a wing-span of about 1.3 cm. It is often found on leaves during the day with the hind wings drawn back alongside of the body and the narrow forewings held at right angles to the body. They lay yellow-green eggs (0.5 mm in diameter) singly or in small groups mainly on the underside of leaves. The caterpillars are greyish white with many pimple-like projections on the body. They turn red the day before pupation. Fully-grown caterpillars are about 8 mm long. They feed on underside of the leaf, usually near the near mid-rib leaving many irregular lace-like patches.
- Eggs are attacked by parasitic wasps; parasitised eggs turn black.
- Caterpillars are attacked by an external parasitoid, which can be seen as shining, light brown objects stuck to the side of the caterpillars.
- Control is justified if over 35 moths are seen when a tree is shaken or when there are 20-30 caterpillars per tree.