Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
Cocopest - Information portal for major pests and diseases of coconut
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Mahasena corbetti (Coconut case caterpillar)
The pupal and larval stages of Mahasena corbetti (Source: sawitsecure.mpob)
General information
Mahasena corbetti, the coconut case caterpillar, is a polyphagous species of bagworm [1]. This species is classified as leaf-eating pest caterpillars that produce tough silk out of their bags from dried foliage. Currently, M. corbetti is considered a pest of quarantine importance in multiple countries and is included on the list of dangerous pests in the Malaysian plant quarantine act.

As a polyphagous pest species, the larvae of M. corbetti attack the leaves of plants of about 37 genera in 20 families, with their preferred host families being 'Fabaceae' (to which legume species belong) and 'Arecaceae' (to which the oil palm species belong) [4].

  • The larva of M. corbetti attack the leaves in a destructive manner and the resulting defoliation
  • The leaves turn yellowish in color and fall down upon their death [2]
  • The early instars of M. corbetti use their mandibles to scrape on the surface of the leaf and produces holes which cause the leaf to change color and fall prematurely
  • The leaf tissue also undergoes necrosis and skeletonisation happens due to scrapping.
  • When the instars become larger, they start cutting the leaf and start chewing the leaf from the margins, causing scarring.
Detection and Inspection
Observe for construction of cases from nearby foliage once the larvae lands on the leaves.
Taxonomic information
Category - Insect
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Arthropoda
Class - Insecta
Order - Lepidoptera
Family - Psychidae
Genus - Mahasena
Species - corbetti
Common Name - Coconut case caterpillar
Scientific Name - Mahasena corbetti
The pest has been recorded in many Southeast Asian regions and Pacific islands, including Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Borneo (Brunei, Sabah), Solomon Islands, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.

Because the larvae of M. corbetti are most active as pests during bright sunlight, this species thrives in areas that get a lot of natural sunlight and heat.[2].

This dispersal event has been recorded but not well understood for this species. All that is known is that M. corbetti larvae are dispersed by wind, vehicles, animals, or humans [3].
Prevention and Control
  • The M. corbetti is controlled by natural enemies, which vary from palm to palm. In East Malaysia, six species of hymenopterous parasitoids (including Braconidae, Ichneumonidae, and Eulophidae) and five species of dipterous parasitoids (all Tachinidae) are natural predators of this species.
  • In Singapore, the cleric beetle (Callimeris bellus) is a larval predator of M. corbetti.[4]
  • Although Bt sprays are the current mode of treatment for M. corbetti control, the chemical treatments are ineffective after bagworm larvae have metamorphosed to the pupal stage [3]
Plant Parts Affected
  1. Anon., 1990. "Mahasena corbetti Tams, 1928". Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. Retrieved 29 April 2022.
  2. Firake, D. M.; Behere, G. T.; Arnscheid, W. R.; Kumar, R.; Ngachan, S. V. (2018). "First report of coconut case caterpillar, Mahasena corbetti Tams (Lepidoptera: Psychidae) from India". Phytoparasitica. 46 (3): 355–364. doi:10.1007/s12600-018-0673-7.
  3. Loong, Yew Cheong; Tey, Chin Chong (2012). "Understanding Pest Biology and Behaviour for Effective Control of Oil Palm Bagworm" (PDF). The Planter. 88 (1039).
  4. Tzi, Ming Leong; Lim, Kevin K. P. (2012). "Record of the bagworm moth, Mahasena corbetti tams in Singapore (Lepidoptera: Psychidae)" (PDF). Nature in Singapore. 5: 1–5.
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