Matthew J. W. Cock
Journal of Insect Science 13 (124), 1-16, (5 November 2013) https://doi.org/10.1673/031.013.12401
KEYWORDS: Arecaceae, Batrachedridae, caterpillar, Lepidoptera, palms, parasitoid, pollen
In 2006, Batrachedra nuciferae Hodges (Lepidoptera: Batrachedridae) was the first phytophagous insect to be reported from inflorescences of coconut, Cocos nucifera L. (Arecales: Arecaceae), in Trinidad, West Indies. At that time, it was suggested to be an introduced species contributing to decreasing coconut yields on the island and potentially a threat to other palms. In this preliminary study, inflorescences of coconut, seven indigenous palms, and six exotic ornamental palms were surveyed in several areas of Trinidad. Caterpillars of more than 10 species of Lepidoptera were found and reared through to the adult stage. Batrachedra nuciferae was positively identified. It was concluded that the caterpillars of B. nuciferae feed on pollen in the male flowers of coconut and palmiste or royal palm, Roystonea oleracea (Jacquin) O.F. Cook. There was no evidence that B. nuciferae bred on any of the other palms surveyed, but it is not conclusive that they do not do so. A parasitoid, Apanteles (sensu lato) sp. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), of B. nuciferae was reared. On available information, B. nuciferae is more likely to be an indigenous species that has hitherto been overlooked than an introduced species. In view of what is known about damage-yield relationships and biological control agents, B. nuciferae is unlikely to cause yield losses to coconut, so control measures are not justified.