Light Brown Apple Moth
Adult moth on a leaf. Photo: Department of Primary Industries and Water, Tasmania Archive, Bugwood.org
Adult female light brown apple moth. Photo: Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org
Adult male light brown apple moth. Photo: Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org
Pupa and larva of light brown apple moth. Photo: Department of Primary Industries and Water, Tasmania Archive, Bugwood.org
Fruit damage on apples. Photo: Department of Primary Industries and Water, Tasmania Archive, Bugwood.org
Originally from Australia, the light brown apple moth can now be found in New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, the British Isles, and most recently, California. The light brown apple moth is a greater threat than many other exotic pests because it has been confirmed in the United States. Light brown apple moth also has an astonishing list of hosts reaching upwards of 2,000. Of greatest concern are apple, grape, pear, peach, and cherry.
Since being found in several California counties, including Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Solano, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Benito, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Diego, failure to eradicate light brown apple moth has cost over $133 million in estimated crop loss and increased production costs.
In New York, several crops of concern are grown, notably apples and grapes.
Light brown apple moth is not as discernible from other moths as one might imagine; its name alone is a good physical description. Females are slightly larger than males, with a wingspan of ½-1 inch. Adults are an overall yellow-brown color, perhaps the most identifiable characteristic being the darker brown edge of the forewings in males. Wing color patterns, usually dark brown, vary greatly and are less prominent in females. Light brown apple moth can have 3-5 generations per year.
These tiny moths fall under the category of leaf rollers, as they literally roll the leaves of trees and other plants into shelters. While this alone doesn't necessarily damage the tree, it does make caterpillars and adults more difficult to find and control. Caterpillars feed on the surface of the fruit, but once they break the surface they can cause deep feeding scars.