Opuntia Bug? Cactus Bug? Chelinidea vittiger?

         By Michael J. Green

If a rose by any other name is still a rose, trouble by any of these names is still trouble. Once tested as a biological control for Opuntia, Chelinidea vittiger aequoris was no where near as effective as the Cactoblastus cactorum moth now threatening Mexico’s lucrative carmine azo dye industry being only 8 miles off the coast. Chelinidea vittiger aequoris is actually HERE and probably even in YOUR backyard. Chelinidea vittiger, in its various forms, ranges from California to Virginia, northward to Montana, and southward to northern Mexico. Hamlin (1932) showed Central Florida as the southeastern U.S. limit of C. v. aequoris.[1] The adult has a length of 10 to 13.5 mm; width across pronotum 4 to 5 mm. The most striking features of C. vittiger aequoris are a conspicuous dorsal, yellow stripe (not fin) on the head, nearly solid yellow pronotum, and yellow veins of the forewing. While the feeding of the bugs leaves unsightly marks on the cactus pads, the plants never seem to suffer too badly, even with heavy infestations. Eggs are usually laid in a row on the longest cactus spines2. Systemic pesticide sprays work quite well to reduce / eliminate the populations.


Chelinidea vittiger has been seen on Opuntias, Cleistocactus, Echinocactus, Ferocactus, Echinocereus and Stenocactus in Riverside.


Chelinidea vittiger adult on Cleistocactus                      Chelinidea vittiger nymphs on Opuntia



Chelinidea vittiger on Ferocactus                                 Chelinidea vittiger damage on Opuntias

[1] http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/beneficial/c_v_aequoris.htm

2 http://www.hartmanprehistoricgarden.com/sa-chelinidea.html