Opogona binotatella (Walker)

Potato-boring Opogona Moth (Opogona binotatella)

This species was described in 1875, it is, or maybe was, restricted to the island of Saint Helena, where it appears to have been quite common.:

It was chiefly at Plantation that I met with this species, where it abounds; indeed it is much too abundant, as in the caterpillar-state it is most destructive to the potato-crops. Mr. Melliss observes, “The larva of this moth is well known in the island as the potato-worm. It is a small, translucent, maggot-like creature, of a dirty whitish hue, marked with four longitudinal rows of small brown spots, and having a few long hairs on its body. In length it varies from a half to three quarters of an inch. The head is hard, and of a chocolate-brown colour; and the little creature moves backwards quite as easily as it does forwards. It abounds in the island, and is a thorough pest to the potato-crops. Either the eggs are laid in the potatoes, or the larva enters them in an early stage of its growth, and, through its depredations, renders them quite unfit for food. When changing to the pupa-state it wraps itself up in a strong web, in the form of a close, tough envelope; and the chrysalis is of a light mahogany colour, with the positions of the wings and legs, even in its early stage, strongly marked longitudinally down the outside of the case or skin.” It would therefore appear to be only in the more cultivated parts of the island that this species has established itself; and on rapping the trunks of trees in such situations the imagos fly off in showers; nevertheless they very quickly settle again.” [1]

The forewings are dull and opaque dark cloudy brown colored, they are more or less besprinkled with blackish scales; some individuals are darker; the hindwings are glossy, silk-like cinereous, becoming darker towards the apex. [1]


There are no recent records of that species, and it is possible that it is already extinct, which is weird given the fact that it apparently was able to adapt to introduced potatoes as larval food plant. [2]



[1] Mrs. T. Vernon Wollaston: Notes on the Lepidoptera of St. Helena, with descriptions of new species. The Annals and Magazine of Natural History, including Zoology, Botany, and Geology. Ser. 5. Vol. 3: 415-441. 1879
[2] Timm Karisch: Darwin-Plus Project DPLUS040: securing the future for St Helena’s endemic invertebrates. Report Lepidoptera. Dessau, 31.08.2018


edited: 29.05.2021