Acleris variegana

Author: (Denis and Schiffermüller, 1775)

Garden rose tortrix moth
Fruit tortricid

Species Overview:

Adult: 14-19 mm wingspan, forewings whitish ochreous to purplish, variable suffused with grey, frequently with much of the basal half white and with distinct, often black, scale tufts; hindwings grey. A very variable species.
Egg: 0.6 x 0.5 mm; pale yellowish to reddish; deposited singly or in small batches on the leaves of the food plant, usually along the mid-rib on either surface.
Larva: 12-14 mm long; head and prothoracic plate yellowish or greenish brown, head with blackish brown marking near stemmata, and postero-lateral markings; abdomen yellowish green or light green, pinacula concolorous or paler; anal plate green; thoracic legs yellowish brown.
Pupa: 8-9 mm long, reddish brown or light brown; cremaster short and broad, end of cremaster with two sharp corners behind, four slender cremaster hooks and four slender anal hooks; in the larval habitation or spun up amongst dead leaves on the ground [details pupa Acleris spp.].

Taxonomic Description:


Acleris variegana adult
Acleris variegana adults 1
Acleris variegana adults 2
External characters: 14-19 mm wingspan. Head brownish grey to dark grey, labial palpus brownish grey, sometimes suffused with ochreous, thorax and abdomen brownish grey. Forewing hardly expanding distally, costa bent outwards in basal third, apex short, pointed.
The variation in forewing colouration and markings is considerable. Many 'forms' are recognized. These forms are mostly distinct and do not intergrade.
A common form: forewing ground colour white, basal half variably strigulated with grey, a concentration of shining grey or plumbeous striae on dorsum before middle, distal half overlaid with dark ochreous-brown except for scattered white scales and several small groups of raised scales in apical and tornal areas; markings poorly defined, basal fascia indicated by grey suffusion on costa; sub-basal fascia represented on dorsum by an outward-oblique black mixed with ferruginous patch containing a large erect scale-tuft in the submedian fold; median fascia varying from ochreous-brown to ferruginous-brown with plumbeous admixture and scattered black mixed with white raised scales forming small tufts along the inner margin; pre-apical spot obscure, similarly coloured, containing plumbeous admixture; cilia ochreous-brown, with a dark sub-basal line. Hindwing grey, paler basally; cilia concolorous, with a dark sub-basal line. See 'variation' for description of other forms (after Razowski, 1984; Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia A. variegana
Genitalia: Tegumen with large terminal lobes; socii broad, rounded laterally, almost straight at opposite side; tuba analis broad. Sacculus broad anteriorly, rounded basally, concave before middle, arced outwards in posterior part of ventral edge, delicately undulate or dentate before long spined termination. Aedeagus rather broad with 8 or 9 fairly short cornuti and strong thorn.


External characters: Forewing not expanding distally; colour and markings as in male.

female gen. A. variegana
Genitalia: Sterigma with elongate, rounded apically, anterior projections; antrum heavily sclerotized, large; ductus bursae short, bulbous posteriorly; ductus seminalis situated submedially; signum somewhat elongate, dentate.


Acleris variegana adults 2
Acleris variegana is a very variable species. The forewing can be sharply demarcated at the centre, the whole of the basal half being white except for a fuscous suffusion at the base of the costal margin and an indication of the sub-basal fascia on the dorsum, usually in the form of two short vertical black bars, the large scale-tuft below the submedian fold being white, while in contrast the distal half of the wing is blackish fuscous intermixed with ferruginous and shining plumbeous scaling. The basal half of the forewing can also be distinctly tinged with pale ochreous.
The forewing ground colour can be light ochreous, the sub-basal fascia developed on the dorsum, and the median fascia obsolescent dorsally but well developed on the costa and confluent with the pre-apical spot, forming a dark fuscous or blackish fuscous triangular costal blotch.
The markings can also be obsolescent except for the fuscous costal blotch, and the white ground colour sprinkled with blackish scales, especially in the distal area, or the forewing colour can be almost unicolorous white with only sparse fuscous scaling in the apical area, especially along the costa and termen. A melanistic form has the forewing blackish plumbeous with somewhat darker irregular transverse marbling (after Bradley et al., 1973).


Adults appear from July to September. Eggs are then laid in batches on either side of the leaves, usually along the mid-vein. They hatch in the spring. Larvae feed from May to late June or early July, sheltered within loosely spun leaves or in folded leaf edges, eventually pupating in the larval habitation or amongst fallen leaves (Alford, 1995).

Host plants:

Larvae feed on Rosaceae, especially species of Rosa, including garden varieties, and Rubus (blackberry, raspberry), Sanguisorba minor, Crataegus, Prunus (cherry , blackthorn, plum, almond, apricot), Malus (apple) and Pyrus (pear). Also recorded on various other plants, including Ulmus, Vaccinium, Corylus, Cotoneaster, Cydonia (quince) and Berberis.


Young larvae skeletonize the leaves but later instars graze on foliage in the normal way; injury however is not extensive and food plant growth is not affected


Europe to Asia Minor, Central Asia and China; North-Western Africa; North America.


Pheromone unknown.


Oedemopsis scabricula (Grav.) (Ichneumonidae) (record from Canada; Loan and Doganlar, 1980).

Acleris permutana (Duponchel)

Acleris permutana adult
When the forewing ground colour of this species is ochreous-brown, it resembles the closely related species Acleris permutana in general appearance but it may be distinguished by the erect scale-tuft in the submedian fold. Also compare genitalia [male genitalia A. permutana ; female genitalia A. permutana ]. Acleris permutana occurs from Western, Central and Southern Europe to Asia Minor and Central Asia. Host plants are Rosa spp, Malus (apple) and Prunus spp. (blackthorn, plum, almond).