Aphelia paleana

Author: (Hübner, 1793)

Timothy tortrix

Species Overview:

Adult: 17-24 mm wingspan; forewings pale yellow-ochreous or whitish ochreous without markings; hindwings dark grey.
Egg: deposited in small batches of about 10-30 eggs arranged in a double row.
Larva: dark-green to black, with prominent shining white pinacula; head and prothoracic plate brownish black or jet black, plate divided by a light brown line, anterior margin broadly edged with brown or grey; thoracic legs and anal plate black; anal comb present.
Pupa: dark brown or black, abdomen paler.

Taxonomic Description:


A. paleana male
Aphelia paleana male 2
External characters: 17-24 mm wingspan. Antenna weakly dentate-ciliate. Labial palpus yellow; remaining parts of head concolorous, thorax darker; abdomen more grey with yellowish anal tuft. Forewing without costal fold, expanding terminally; costa curved at base; termen slightly oblique, nearly straight to middle; pale yellow-ochreous or whitish ochreous without markings; cilia paler. Reverse of forewing brownish grey except for edges, which are yellow-cream. Hindwing broad, grey; cilia cream (Razowski, 1981a; Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia A. paleana
Genitalia: Uncus fairly long, narrowing medially, strongly broadening distally, rounded apically; gnathos with lateral prominences; terminal plate of gnathos arm long, broadening and rounded apically. Sacculus convex post-basally, provided with well-developed dorsal plate. Transtilla broad, band-shaped, with median portion directed distally when valvae are not opened. Aedeagus rather short, tapering distally, provided with sub-terminal dent situated on dorsal margin of right wall and group of dorsal and lateral thorns; 2-5 cornuti in vesica.


Aphelia paleana females
Aphelia paleana female 2
External characters: Forewing slender, uniformly broad throughout, with oblique, rather straight termen and more convex basal part of costa; forewing colouration similar to that of male but usually paler (Razowski, 1981a; Bradley et al., 1973).

female genitalia A. paleana
Genitalia: Sterigma fairly large, delicately concave in middle of distal wall, with weakly sclerotized antevaginal plate (except for surrounding of antrum). Antrum flattened laterally, rounded proximally; ductus bursae with median cestum; signum strong. Eighth tergite characterized with two dorsal thorns situated medially.


In both sexes the colouration of the forewings varies from whitish or greyish ochreous, found in the more common forms, to pale clear yellow.


There is only one generation yearly. Eggs are deposited during July and August in small batches on the upper surface of a leaf of the food plant, arranged in a double row longitudinally along the leaf. They hatch in about 6 days. Larvae hibernate during the winter and continue to feed in the spring in spun leaves of various Gramineae. They pupate in June, in a folded edge of a leaf. Moths fly in July and August. During the day the moth may be disturbed from rest amongst rough herbage in meadows and pastures, and flies leisurely about its habitat in the evening.

Host plants:

Polyphagous on Gramineae and many other plants (Agropyron, Anemone, Calamagrostis, Caltha, Carduus, Centaurea, Cirsium, Filipendula, Inula, Lonicera, Petasites, Phargmites, Phleum, Picea, Plantago, Quercus, Ranunculus, Rhinantus, Rumex, Rubus, Scabiosa, Trifolium, Tussilago, Vaccinium).


Larvae occasionally cause serious damage to crops of Phleum pratense (Timothy grass), feeding in spun leaves and sometimes in the seedheads.


British Isles, Central and Northern Europe to Leningrad in Eastern Europe; S. Sakhalin. A record from China needs confirmation; records from Iran concern cristophi (Razowski, 1993; Razowski, 1981a)


Pheromone unknown.


Z 11-14Ac : 9
E 11-14Ac : 1
(Booij and Voerman, 1984a)


Glypta bicornis Boie.(Ichneumonidae)
Macrocentrus nitidus Wesmael (Braconidae)
Ischus (Habrocryptus) brachymus Gravenhorst (Ichneumonidae)