Insect Eating Our Pandan Leaves


We have a pandan plant (pandanus amaryllifolius) in our garden. The mildly fragrant leaves of the pandan are an important ingredient in Malaysian and Thai cuisine and they are used for scenting rice or as an aromatic wrap for pieces of fried or BBQ chicken.

The plant is robust and easy to grow and normally looks very healthy but following our prolonged dry spell in Malaysia I notice that it is starting to look sick.

Pandan leaves under attack.

The big holes in the leaves look like the work of insects. Pandan is not normally prone to insect attacks, indeed it has repellent properties and local taxi drivers are known to keep bunches of pandan leaves in their cabs to keep cockroaches at bay.

Looks suspicious

On closer inspection I notice that there are a number of balls of crumpled, dried leaves trying to look inconspicuous in among the foliage.

Could these be the culprits?

I pulled a couple off. The part stuck to the leaves is sticky and elastic. Inside these cunningly disguised cocoons (if that is what they are) are the pandan-eating insects.

The pandan eater

Any idea what kind of insect this is? I thought perhaps the pupa of a moth.

4 thoughts on “Insect Eating Our Pandan Leaves”

  1. You are quite right, it is the caterpillar of the bagworm moth. Usually the females have vestigial wings, and are flightless.

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