GRI Host Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network Meeting

Geosystems Research Institute
February 7, 2006

Story PhotoThe GeoResources Institute (GRI) hosted a meeting of the Cactus Moth Detection and Monitoring Network project on January 31, 2006 at the Mississippi State University ERC. Led by Dr. John Madsen, Assistant Professor with the GRI, the cactus moth project is a joint effort of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and Mississippi State University. Participating scientists represented the USGS Invasive Species Project office, USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), USDA-APHIS, USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS), and Mississippi State University.

The cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum, is a non-native moth that can devastate populations of pricklypear cactus (Opuntia spp.). Whether accidentally introduced or naturally dispersed, the cactus moth was first observed in Florida in 1989. Since then, it has spread northward to South Carolina and westward to Alabama. Scientists are concerned that this species, if it reaches the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, could have potentially irreparable impacts on native plant communities. The goal of the cactus moth project is to train volunteers to observe prickly pear cactus and cactus moth locations, and use this data to prevent its further spread. Cactus and cactus moth location data are shared using a web-based database (

For more information, contact Dr. John D. Madsen at or (662) 325-2428.

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