Red banded mango caterpillar

Have you seen red banded mango caterpillar symptoms?

Be on the lookout for symptoms and report them to Biosecurity Queensland.

Early detection and reporting of symptoms are the key elements in controlling the pest.

Call us on 13 25 23

General information

Red banded mango caterpillar (RBMC, Deanolis sublimbalis) is a pest of mango in tropical parts of Asia where it causes commercial losses in the order of 10-15%. It is considered a serious threat to Australia's commercial mango industry.

RBMC tunnels through the skin and flesh and feeds on the seed, causing fruit spoiling and premature fruit drop.

RBMC is a far northern pest under the Biosecurity regulation 2016. Movement restrictions on the pest and carriers apply.


What does it look like?

An obvious external sign of infestation is the presence of a liquid exudate from the mouth of a tunnel chewed by the caterpillar through the skin. It trickles down to the tip of the fruit and accumulates. Although almost clear when fresh, the liquid darkens and shows up as a dark streak on the skin leading to a dark spot at the fruit tip.

Early signs of infestation may not be as easily seen and could include small darkened boreholes on the fruit caused by entering larvae.

Damaged fruit may be attacked secondarily by fruit flies or various decaying organisms and may fall from the tree prematurely.

To inspect fruit for RBMC, cut it open to expose the inside of the seed. The larvae will most likely be seen tunnelling in the seed, but can also be present in the flesh.

The larvae are plump, glossy, brightly banded in white and dark red and have a black collar near the head. More than one larva can be present.

Adults are approximately 12mm long and fawn colours. Eggs are laid on the peduncle (fruit stalk) and after 7-8 days hatch into larvae, which tunnel into the flesh and then into the seed. Larvae feed for 15-20 days and pupate in the soil for around 20 days, before emerging as the adult moth to continue egg-laying. The biology and life history of RBMC is not completely understood.

Where does it occur?

RBMC exists in India, Burma, the Philippines, Java and Sulawesi in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It may be more widely distributed in South-East Asia than records indicate. Since 1990 it has been detected on several Torres Strait Islands and is now known to occur at several locations near the northern tip of Cape York Peninsula.

What is Biosecurity Queensland doing about it?

Due to the isolation of RBMC detections on Cape York Peninsula and Torres Strait, it poses no immediate threat to the mango industry. The detections should also not affect national or international trade from commercial mango production areas. Biosecurity Queensland regularly surveys Cape York Peninsula for RBMC and other mango pests.

The Far Northern Biosecurity Zones have been established to prohibit the movement of the pest and carriers such as fruit, plants and soil to the rest of Queensland. The Coen Information and Inspection Centre is enforcing controls on mango fruit and plant movement.

What do I need to know about it?

If you grow mangoes, keep watch for this pest during the fruiting period and advise Biosecurity Queensland of any suspected infestation. Mango growers do not need to apply any chemical controls for RBMC, because the pest is still remote from commercial plantations.

If you are travelling to or around the Cape York Peninsula or live there, ensure you observe the movement restrictions. It is illegal to move mango plant material, including fruit, or mango pests from the Far Northern Biosecurity Zone 1 into the Far Northern Biosecurity Zone 2, and then into the rest of Queensland.

If you are unsure about quarantine restrictions phone the Coen Information and Inspection Centre on 07 4060 1135. Fines of around $350,000 or 3 years imprisonment may be imposed for breaching the Biosecurity Act 2014 .

Further information

If you think that you may have seen red banded mango caterpillar, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (free call). Non-Queensland residents phone 07 3404 6999. Alternatively, email us.


Images by courtesy of Dr John Ismay, Konedobu, Papua New Guinea, and some text from AQIS Leaflet No.51, Red-Banded Mango Caterpillar; reprinted with the permission of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.