Friday, October 18, 2002

Cacti Attacked

Scientists are concerned that the cactus moth (Cactoblastis cactorum), which dines on virtually any species of prickly pear (Opuntia spp.), is spreading north and west through North America. According to this article from the Arizona Daily Star, the moth, which is native to South America, could be making its way to Arizona and Mexico, where prickly pear cactus is a significant part of the desert ecosystem and also an important agricultual crop. The cactus moth is actually considered one of the first successful biological controls, having been introduced to Australia in the mid-20th century to combat invasive patches of prickly pear cactus. It is now also a pest of native cacti in that country.

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