Sweetpotato butterfly

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Scientific name: Acraea acerata Hew.


Damage on leaves  by A. acerata (N. Smit).


Complete defoliation due to feeding by older larvae (N. Smit).

Diagnostic summary

  • What they do to plants:

- young caterpillars feed on the upper leaf surface while older larvae eat the whole leaf except for the midrib and main veins. Complete defoliation may result from severe attacks.

  • Found in all sweetpotato areas of Eastern  Africa and a production constraint in relatively dry agroecological zones.

  • Sporadic outbreaks usually occur at the beginning of the dry season.

  • A sweetpotato specialist, but may breed on Ipomoea spp.

  • "nests" of young caterpillars that can consist of several leaves attached with webbing, and orange butterflies swarming over the field are signs of the pest.


Economic importance

Geographical distribution



Biology and ecology

Host range

Detection and inspection




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