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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Codling Moth

Cydia pomonella

Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Torticidae

Cydia pomonella

Photographer:Todd M. Gilligan and Marc E. Epstein Affiliation: USDA APHIS ITP Source:www.bugwood.org Copyright:CC BY-NC 3.0


Adult Description: Female Cydia pomonella are about 3/8 inch long and males are slightly shorter. The adults hold their wings over their back forming a tent shape, and the winds arte grey with a darker shade of gray near the base with a patch of coppery scales near the inside wing tip.

Larvae Description: Cream to pinkish body and a brown head that has dark spots on the collar behind the head. Right before pupation the larvae grow up to 5/8 inch. They feed on the inside of apples. One single larvae can destroy a whole apple/fruit.

Host Plant: Apple, pear, macadamia and walnut trees. 

Ecological Threat

Currently populations are under control; however, when this moth is not managed it can destroy up to 95% of apple crops in orchards. This severely impacts the local economy and livelihoods of the orchard owners. There are two signs to look for that might suggest a Codling moth infestation: 1) a tunnel from the outside of the apple all the way to the core or 2) small pinprick-sized “stings” with a small amount of tissue damage on the cavity walls. The “stings” come from larvae that have been poisoned and die shortly after burrowing into the fruit.


Codling moth larvae overwinter within a cocoon under leaf litter or any other sheltered place. Pupation occurs when temperatures rise and emergence happens when the first bloom occurs. Those adults lay eggs for the first generation. Eggs are laid on the leaves near fruit or on the fruit to develop for 8-14 days. Initially they are translucent then they become reddish as they mature. The hatched larvae then burrow into the fruit surface and feed just under the surface before boring into the core. Larvae feed for 3 to 4 weeks; and then exit the fruit to pupate. The larvae that overwinter are considered second generation, and sometimes there is a third generation but usually that generation is not able to beat the winter temperatures.


Introduced into the United States over 200 years ago. Exact point of introduction is not known. However, it could have come in from Eurasia when any of the host plants were being imported into the United States.

Native Origin


Current Location

U.S. Habitat: Anywhere the host plant is present

U.S. Present: AZ, CA, CO, FL, IL, IN, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NC, NE, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, UT, WA and WI          

Ecological impacts of an exotic benthivorous fish in large experimental wetlands, Delta Marsh, Canada

View a map provided by CAPS/CERIS/USDA of distribution, survey and eradication efforts here


The larvae can resemble the Oriental fruit moth larvae because they can also be found feeding within apples. Adults may appear similar to dark individuals of Cydia splendana. Cydia pomonella can be separated from C. splendana by the metallic scales surrounding the ocellus and the hair pencil on the male hind-wing. A dissection of genitalia can be used to confirm identity.


Populations of the Codling moth in the United States are currently under control because pesticides that kill other pests are also able to kill the moth. Problems with insecticide resistance are beginning to surface in the western U. S. where the CM has developed resistance to the organophosphate insecticides, primarily azinphosmethyl. Also, there are some biological controls that can be used on unsprayed trees such as some parasitic wasps and a host of generalist predators of insects (e.g., assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs, green lacewing larvae). Studies have also shown birds such as woodpeckers, nothatches and creepers predators of codling moth larvae Several successful studies have shown that populations can also be controlled by mating disruption and removal of infected fruits.


Text References

Barnes, M. M., Millar, J. G., Kirsch, P. A., & Hawks, D. C. 1992. Codling moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) control by dissemination of synthetic female sex pheromone. Journal of Economic Entomology, 85(4), 1274-1277.

Bentley, W.J. and M. Viveros. 1992. Brown-bagging Granny Smith apples on trees stops codling moth damage. Calif. Agriculture. 46(4):30-32.

Brown, J. W. 2006. Scientific names of pest species in Tortricidae (Lepidoptera) frequently cited erroneously in the entomological literature. American Entomologist. 52: 182-189.

Gilligan, T. M., D. J. Wright and L. D. Gibson. 2008. Olethreutine moths of the Midwestern United States, an identification guide. Ohio Biological Survey, Columbus, Ohio. 334 pp.


Internet Sources







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