Aphelia viburnana

Author: (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775)

Billberry tortrix

Species Overview:

Adult: 15-22 mm wingspan; forewings varying from grey-brown to reddish brown, occasionally greyish ochreous, unicolorous or with darker markings. Hindwing dark grey or grey-brown.
Egg: deposited in small batches of about 10-30 eggs arranged in a double row.
Larva: 10-12 mm, green to greenish black or bluish grey with paler sub-spiracular line and whitish green pinacula; head light yellowish brown, marked with black postero-laterally; prothoracic plate and anal plate light brown or greenish brown, variably marked with black; anal comb brownish; thoracic legs greenish or brownish, marked with black.
Pupa: black, in a white silken cocoon.

Taxonomic Description:


A. viburnana males
Aphelia viburnana males
External characters: 15-22 mm wingspan. Antenna weakly dentate-ciliate. Labial palpus brownish; remaining parts of head and thorax brownish ferruginous or with ochreous admixture. Forewing fairly broad, without costal fold; costa weakly curved outwards; apex short, rounded; termen slightly oblique, nearly straight to before tornus. Ground colour varying from grey-brown to reddish brown; wing unicolorous or with ill-defined, browner or darker, markings; cilia paler than wing, more ochreous cream. Hindwing brown-grey with paler, often whitish cream cilia (Razowski, 1981a; Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia A. viburnana
Genitalia: Uncus long, slender medially, distinctly sinuate apically; gnathos strong with large, somewhat expanding ventrally dentate prominences extending from before top of the lateral arm to beyond median portion. Sacculus strong, with well developed free termination. Transtilla strong, provided with long, almost entirely dentate, lateral processes. Aedeagus with single cornutus.


Aphelia viburnana females
External characters: Forewing more slender than in male, with costa distinctly convex in basal third, straight or weakly concave subapically; apex pointed, somewhat produced; termen distinctly oblique, hardly sinuate submedially. Ground colour as in male or more ferruginous cream; markings much more distinct, rust-brown; basal blotch atrophied; median fascia strong, tapering costally, atrophying towards dorsum; sub-apical blotch delicate, rarely accompanied by subterminal suffusion; cilia more cream than ground colour especially posteriorly. Hindwing brown-grey with paler cilia, slenderer than in male (Razowski, 1981a; Bradley et al., 1973).

female genitalia A. viburnana
Genitalia: Sterigma large, densely spined, except for small proximal prominences situated near short antrum; lateral arms of sterigma concave submedially, tapering terminally; median portion concave dorsally, producing plate-shaped, incised medially prominence which covers ostium bursae. Ductus bursae broad; cestum long; signum a small concave plate armed with two lateral empty prominences.


This species shows minor variation in forewing colouration and markings, which appear to be influenced by food plant and biotope.


Moths are on the wing in June and August in Europe; in the west of Ireland also in September. In England, they frequent moors and mosses where they often occur in numbers, flying actively on hot sunny days. Larvae occur in May and June. Half-grown larvae may be found in late April, indicating that the ova hatch the previous year and that the larvae hibernate. The larva is very active and moves from shoot to shoot. Pupation takes place in June and July, in a white silken cocoon spun in the larval habitation (Bradley et al., 1973).

Host plants:

Abies, Alisma, Andromeda, Artemisia, Aster tripolium, Centaurea, Coronilla, Dryas octopetala, Erica, Filipendula ulmaria, Geranium sanguineum, Helianthemum, Ledum, Lonicera, Lotus, Lysimachia, Lythrum, Myrica, Pastinaca, Pinus, Picea, Potentilla, Salix, Sangulsorba, Scrophularia, Spiraea, Teucrium, Vaccinium and Viburnum.


This species is an important pest of young conifers in Britain. Larvae mine into leaves and buds, causing shoot dieback and multileaders. When feeding on Vaccinium myrtillus it favours the tips of the shoots, eating the upper cuticle and parenchyma, leaving the lower cuticle intact; in some years when the larvae are plentiful the attacked shoots appear pale brown over large areas of moorland. On Dryas octopetala, Geranium sanguineum, Filipendula ulmaria , Aster tripolium and Artemisia they feed in spun shoots and seed heads.


Europe to Asia Minor and Eastern Siberia; Mongolia; China.


Pheromone unknown.


Z 11-14Al (Booij and Voerman, 1985)


Pseudoperichaeta palesoidea (Robineau-Desvoidy) (Tachinidae)
Glypta genalis Möl (Ichneumonidae)
Itoplectis maculator F. (Ichneumonidae)
Apechthis resinator Thunb. (Ichneumonidae)
Blaptocampus canaliculatus Htg.