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Texas Invasive Species Institute

Texas Invasive Species Institute

Light Brown Apple Moth

Epiphyas postvittana

Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Tortricidae

Epiphyas postvittana

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


Adult Description: The adults of the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), Epiphyas postvittana, are variable in color and may be confused with other leafroller (Tortricidae) moths. The moths are typically yellow-brown in color and have dark markings on the forewing. Light brown apple moths are sexually dimorphic, and the females are differentiated by a dark mark located on the hind margin of each forewing.

Larvae Description: Green and just over half an inch long. Epiphyas postvittana caterpillars are often confused with other species and testing is needed to confirm if a caterpillar is the LBAM.

Host Plant: LBAM has been recorded from over 2,000 different types of plants, from 50 plant families. Host plants include alfalfa, avocado, beans, blackberries, boysenberries, chrysanthemum, citrus, clover, eucalyptus, grape, hawthorn, jasmine, Monterey pine, poplar. Rose and stone fruits (peaches, plums, nectarines, cherries and apricots).


Ecological Threat

Caterpillars damage the plant by feeding on the leaves, buds, shoots, and fruit; reducing photosynthetic rate, deforming growth patterns, which leads to general plant weakness and disfigurement. Young larvae feed under silken shelters and older larvae tend to roll leaves together. The greatest economic impact comes from larval feeding on the fruit and causing damage that renders fruit unmarketable.


Adults are nocturnal, and females attract males with a sex pheromone. Females can lay eggs between six and 10 days after moth emergence, depending on the temperature. Eggs are laid in masses on the upper surface of any smooth-leaved host plants. The eggs are flat, and with a pebbled surface and take from five to more than 30 days to hatch, depending on the temperature. Once hatched, the caterpillars wander for a suitable feeding site on the underside of leaves. After 6 instars, the caterpillars then become pupae by spinning a chrysalis that is 10-15 mm long; female pupae are larger than males. In warmer climates, generations tend to overlap and there might be up to four or five generations per year. In cold climates there are usually two generations per year.


LBAM was first introduced into Hawaii in 1896. Then in March 2007, the presence of LBAM was confirmed in California and shipments of plant material have been restricted from California to other states in the USA and also within California from infested counties where LBAM has been detected to non-infested areas in California.

Native Origin


Current Location

U.S. Habitat: The climate within its range can be generally characterized as temperate, dry, or tropical. Based on climate zones within the US, it is estimated that approximately 80% of the continental US may be climatically suitable for the establishment of LBAM.

U.S. Present: CA and HI


Looks very similar to moths in the family Tortricidae.


Detection of eggs and larvae on host material is difficult but pheromone lures are available for adult males to be used in detection. Adults of both sexes will come to black light traps set at night.

APHIS has called together experts from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand to form a Technical Working Group (TWG) to advise APHIS and CDFA on steps for managing the LBAM infestation in California. The TWG has recommended that the agencies adopt a long-term goal of eradicating LBAM. Because there are no single tools or methods that can be relied upon to quickly eliminate LBAM from all infested areas, the proposed eradication program will integrate a number of strategies.



Brown, J. W., Epstein, M. E., Gilligan, T. M., Passoa, S. C., & Powell, J. A. 2010. Biology, identification, and history of the light brown apple moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae: Archipini) in California: an example of the importance of local faunal surveys to document the establishment of exotic insects. American entomologist, 56(1):34-43.

Johnson, M.W., C. Pickel, L.L. Strand, L.G. Varela, C.A. Wilen, M.P. Bolda, M.L. Flint, W.K.F. Lam, and F.G. Zalom. 2007. Light Brown Apple Moth in California: Quarantine, Management and Potential Impacts. University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Suckling, D. M., & Brockerhoff, E. G. 2010. Invasion biology, ecology, and management of the light brown apple moth (Tortricidae). Annual Review of Entomology, 55:285-306.
Suckling, D. M., Stringer, L. D., Baird, D. B., Butler, R. C., Sullivan, T. E. S., Lance, D. R., & Simmons, G. S. 2014. Light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana)(Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) colonization of California. Biological Invasions, 1-13.

Vennette, R.C., E.E. Davis, M. DaCosta, H. Heisler, and M. Larson. 2003. Mini Risk Assessment Light Brown Apple Moth, Epiphyas postvittana (Walker) Lepidoptera:Tortricidae.

Internet Sources






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