Cacoecimorpha pronubana

Author: (Hübner, 1799)

Carnation tortrix moth
European carnation moth

Species Overview:

Adult: males 15-17 mm wingspan, females 18-22 mm wingspan; forewings orange-brown with variable reddish-brown or blackish markings and (in females) dark brown reticulation; hindwings orange.
Egg: light-green, reticulate, oval; batches covered with mucilage, eggs overlapping each other [Cacoecimorpha pronubana eggs ].
Larva: 15-20 mm; the colour of the larvae may vary to some extent, but on carnation it is usually yellowish-green to olive-green, paler below and with slightly paler green pinacula, each bearing a long seta. Head greenish yellow or yellow-brown, marked with dark-brown; prothoracic and anal plates green, marked with dark brown; anal comb green, usually with six teeth [Cacoecimorpha pronubana larva 1 ; Cacoecimorpha pronubana larva 2].
Pupa: 9-12 mm long; dark-brown to black; cremaster elongate and tapered, with eight strong, hooked spines; enclosed within a dense web of silk.

Taxonomic Description:


Cacoecimorpha pronubana male 1
C. pronubana males
External characters: 15-17 mm wingspan; forewing without costal fold. Ground colour deep ochreous-brown or orange-brown, weakly reticulate with darker brown distally; markings dark brown or purplish brown, suffused with dull plumbeous; outer margin of basal fasciae usually indicated in outline only; inner margin of median fascia straight; subapical spot extended as a broad terminal fascia. Hindwing bright orange, terminal margins suffused with black scaling; cilia orange-yellow. There is variation in the colour of the forewings, some individuals being slightly darker than others, chiefly in the males (Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia C. pronubana
Genitalia: Uncus almost heart-shaped, with weak hairy brush; gnathos arms and plates well developed, socii very small. Valva ovate with delicate dorsal part, small area of oblique folds and minute sclerite of disc; sacculus large, with postmedian dentate process. Transtilla heavily sclerotized, provided with postbasal processes directed distally; juxta simple; aedeagus with completely atrophied coecum penis and minute caulis and hairy lateral lobes.


Cacoecimorpha pronubana fem 1
Cacoecimorpha pronubana fem 2
Cacoecimorpha pronubana fem 3
External characters: 18-22 mm wingspan; less intensively coloured than the male. Reticulation more pronounced; median fascia weaker towards costa; subapical spot reduced, emitting a usually distinct stria from inner margin to tornal area. Hindwing orange; black scaling present a inner margin, sparse or absent along termen and at apex (Bradley et al., 1973).

female gen. C. pronubana
Genitalia: Sterigma large, complicate, with ill-defined antevaginal plate and strong lateral sclerites; ostium bursae small; antrum short provided with incomplete tubular sclerite; ductus seminalis from middle of antrum; cestum very long; signum a minute dagger extending from collar-shaped, elevated sclerite.


pronubana pupal skin on Arbutus
Cacoecimorphapronubana has four generations per year in Southern Europe (Italy, Spain), where larvae of the third and fourth generation overwinter. In Northern Africa at least five and probably six generations develop annually. In England two generations per year are the rule; a summer brood emerges from the eggs laid in spring and a winter brood emerges from eggs laid in autumn. In greenhouses the larvae continue to feed throughout the winter months and show no sign of hibernation.
The larvae pass through seven instars before pupation. After settling, the larvae spin a shelter of silk webbing and commence feeding on the upper epidermis of the leaves. When the larvae settle in flowers, e.g. carnation, the petals are spun together and perforated with several holes produced by larval feeding. By the third instar the larvae eat entire leaves and may spin silk at the growing points in a characteristic fashion. Finally, they bore into the base of the flower buds.
Pupation occurs at the final feeding site. Shortly after emergence of the adult moths mating takes place, and oviposition may occur after a few days. Oviposition may last for 12-14 days; up to eight egg masses, each containing 10-200 eggs, are produced per female. These egg masses, which are covered with mucilage, consist of light-green, reticulate oval eggs, overlapping each other, and are mostly found on the upper surface of the leaves. The average incubation period varies between 24 days at 13°C and 12 days at 21°C. On carnation the incubation period for the eggs varies between 6 and 10 days at 23-25°C and a relative air humidity of 65-75%. Larval development takes 8-22 days at these conditions and pupal development 4-14 days. Starting from eggs of an identical age, total development lasted between 18 and 46 days, indicating the variability in reactions to environmental conditions in this species. The life span of the adults was found to vary between 2 and 18 days. This variability results in overlapping of generations (Van de Vrie, 1991).

Host plants:

Larvae are very polyphagous. Among the hosts are fruit trees and shrubs such as raspberry (Rubus), apple (Malus), cherry, plum, peach (Prunus), Citrus, currant and gooseberry (Ribes), and vegetables such as potato, tomato, peas (Lathyrus), beans (Vicia), carrots and cabbage. Also on ornamental plants such as Acacia, Acer, Coronilla, Chrysanthemum, Cupressocyparis leylandii, Cytisus, Dianthus, Euphorbia, Fuchsia, Jasminum, Ilex aquifolium, Laurus nobilis, Ligustrum vulgare, Mahonia aquifolium, Pelargonium, Petunia, Rhododendron, Rosa and Syringa vulgaris.
It has also been recorded on protected and unprotected strawberry crops (Fragaria) in England, as a pest of avocado (Persica) in Israel and as a pest of olive (Olea) in Northern Tunisia and Northern Algeria.
Further records: Arbutus, Euonymus japonicus, Robinia, Hedera helix, and Hippophae rhamnoides.


damaged strawberry leaves
bore-hole in bud (pronubana)
The larvae are voracious feeders, causing considerable harm to foliage, blossoms and fruits. On carnation, the petals are spun together and perforated with several holes produced by larval feeding. By the third instar the larvae eat entire leaves and may spin silk at the growing points. Finally, they bore into the base of the flower buds.
Strawberries are often attacked close to harvest, the larvae burrowing into the flesh beneath the shelter of the calyx. Attacks on strawberry tend to be most severe on protected crops (Alford, 1984; Alford, 1995; Van de Vrie, 1991).


North America; South Africa; Europe to Asia Minor and North Africa (widespread in Italy, Malta, Spain, France, Israel and locally established in England, Wales, Guernsey, Jersey, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, Morocco, Algeria and Sicily). According to Van de Vrie, 1991, it has been occasionally recorded from Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, Luxembourg, and Belgium, but is not established in these countries. This however is not true anymore for the Netherlands


Z11-14Ac : 65 *
E11-14Ac : 20 *
Z11-14OH : 3 *
Z11-14Al : 10
E11-14Al : 2
18Al : <1
23Hy (Descoins et al., 1985)

Components marked with * are involved in attraction.


Z 11-14Ac : 100
Z 11-14OH : 30
E 11-14Ac : 3
Z 9-14Ac : 3 (Witzgall, 1990)


Trichogramma evanescens (Westwood) (Trichogrammatidae)
Elachertus artaeus (Walker) (Eulophidae)
Colpoclypeus florus (Walker) (Eulophidae)
Apanteles sp.
Itoplectis maculator (Fabricius) (Ichneumonidae)
Macrocentrus rossemi Hasselbarth and Van Achterberg (Braconidae)
Actia pilipennis (Fallén) (Tachinidae)
Nemorilla maculosa (Meigen) (Tachinidae)
Pseudoperichaeta nigrolineata (Walker) (Tachinidae)
Pseudoperichaeta palesoidea (Robineau-Desvoidy) (Tachinidae)