Cnephasia incertana

Author: (Treitschke, 1835)

Allied shade moth
Light grey tortrix

Species Overview:

Adult: 14-18 mm wingspan; forewings greyish-white suffused with greyish-brown and with greyish-brown markings; hindwings grey suffused with brown distally.
Egg: 0.35 mm long, reel-shaped, surface with criss-cross pattern; yellowish-white to greenish or olive-brown [Cnephasia incertana egg]; deposited singly or in small batches in folds and crevices in the stems and leaves of herbaceous plants and in the bark of trees, or under lichen.
Larva: 11-12 mm long, head light brown or yellowish brown, edged with black postero-laterally, region of stemmata blackish; prothoracic plate black, edged with whitish anteriorly; abdomen dull dark green; pinacula distinct, black, sometimes brownish but with black bases to setae; anal plate large, black [Cnephasia incertana larva].
Pupa: dull black; spines of the cremaster not bent into hooks, short, their length less than the distance to a ridge lying ventrad; caudal bristles only slightly thickened away from their point of origin, bent distally to form hooks. Spun up in a folded leaf or amongst debris [cremaster pupa C. incertana ].

Taxonomic Description:


Cnephasia incertana adult
Cnephasia incertana male
C. incertana male
External characters: Antenna weakly dentate towards middle, shortly ciliate. Costal margin of forewing slightly arced, termen oblique. Ground colour greyish white, finely irrorate and suffused with greyish brown; markings greyish brown, coarsely irrorate with blackish; sub-basal fascia angulate at middle, abruptly terminated above dorsum; median fascia narrowly indented at and below middle, outer margin diffuse, irregular, usually connected medially to pre-apical spot by a weak greyish brown suffusion; cilia grey, irrorate with whitish. Hindwing grey, suffused with brownish distally; cilia paler (Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia C. incertana
Genitalia: Valva narrow, characteristically curved upwardly, somewhat rounded terminally; sacculus does not reach half the length of valva; uncus long and thin; socii large, narrow; gnathos very long, distal end of gnathos covered with spinules on upper side; aedeagus slender, terminally pointed.


Cnephasia incertana female
C. incertana female
External characters: Usually larger than male, forewing less angulate apically, ground colour generally more strongly suffused and markings less conspicuous. Tip of extensible ovipositor usually visible.

female genitalia C. incertana
Genitalia: Papillae analis narrow, apophyses anteriores and posteriores long; ductus bursae rather short; lamella antevaginalis very small.


Moths occur in June and July. Eggs are deposited, either singly or in small batches, on herbaceous plants or on tree trunks. They hatch in about three weeks and the larvae then spin small hibernacular cocoons in suitable shelter nearby, having fed only on their egg shells. Activity is resumed in early spring. In the first instar the larva mines the leaves, forming short, irregular, blotch-like mines, but in later instars it lives externally, feeding amongst spun leaves or on a flower, spinning the petals down with silk to form a 'capped' blossom. If disturbed, the larva will roll into a tight 'C' and drop to the ground. Pupation takes place in May or early June, spun up in a folded leaf or amongst debris. Moths fly in June and July and deposit their eggs either singly or in small batches (Alford, 1984).

Host plants:

Polyphagous, feeding on Chrysanthemum, Geranium, Plantago, Rumex, Lotus, Ranunculus, Saxifraga and other herbaceous and garden plants, including cultivated strawberry (Fragaria), beans (Vicia) and peas (Lathyrus), trefoils, clover, lucerne and artichoke; also on Vitis, Malus, Pyrus, Crataegus and young conifers.

Hering, 1957, provides a full list of plants on which mining larvae have been found:
Acer, Achillea, Adenostyles, Adoxa, Aegopodium, Aesculus, Agrimonia, Agrostemma, Alchemilla, Anagallis, Androsace, Angelica, Anthriscus, Anthyllis, Aquilegia, Arctium, Armeria, Arnica, Artemisia, Asperula, Aster, Astragalus, Atriplex, Ballota, Barbarea, Bellis, Beta, Brassica, Brassicella, Bryonia, Cakile, Calendula, Caltha, Campanula, Capsella, Cardamine, Carduus, Carthamus, Carum, Centaurea, Cerastium, Caerophyllum, Chenopodium, Chrysanthemum, Cichorium, Chrysoplenium, Cirsium, Claytonia, Colchicum, Conopodium, Convolvulus, Cotyledon, Crataegus, Crepis, Cucurbita, Cyclamen, Dactylis, Daucus, Delphinium, Digitalis, Dipsacus, Echium, Epilobium, Erigeron, Erodium, Erysimum, Eupatorium, Euphorbia, Fagopyrum, Fagus, Festuca, Filipendula, Foeniculum, Fragaria, Fumaria, Gagea, Galega, Galeopsis, Galium, Genista, Gentiana, Geranium, Geum, Glechoma, Globularia, Glyceria, Gnaphalium, Hedera, Helianthus, Heracleum, Hieracium, Hirschfeldia, Holosteum, Humulus, Hypericum, Hypochoeris, Impatiens, Inula, Isatis, Kickxia, Knautia, Lactuca, Lamium, Lapsana, Lathyrus, Lens, Leontodon, Lepidium, Linaria, Linum, Lithospermum, Lonicera, Lotus, Lunaria, Lupinus, Lycopus, Lysimachia, Malachium, Matricaria, Medicago, Melandrium, Melilotus, Melissa, Mentha, Milium, Mimulus, Moehringia, Mycelis, Myosotis, Myosurus, Myrrhis, Nepeta, Neslia, Oenanthe, Onobrychis, Ononis, Origanum, Ornithopus, Papaver, Pedicularis, Peucedanum, Phaca, Phacelia, Phyteuma, Picris, Pisum, Plantago, Poa, Polygonum, Potentilla, Primula, Prunella, Prunus, Pulicaria, Pulmonaria, Ranunculus, Raphanus, Rapistrum, Reseda, Rheum, Rhinanthus, Ribes, Rorippa, Rosa, Rubus, Rumex, Salvia, Sanguisorba, Satureja, Saxifraga, Scabiosa, Scandix, Scrophularia, Senecio, Serratula, Silene, Sinapis, Sison, Sisymbrium, Sium, Solidago, Sonchus, Spergularia, Stachys, Stellaria, Succisa, Symphytum, Teucrium, Thlaspi, Thymus, Torilis, Tragopogon, Trifolium, Trigonella, Trollius, Tropaeolum, Tulipa, Tussilago, Urtica, Valerianella, Verbascum, Verbena, Veronica, Vicia, Viola, Zinnia.


Larvae can be found on cultivated strawberries. Attacks on foliage are of no importance but damage to stamens and receptacles of flowers may result in the loss or malformation of fruits. The first instar larva mines the leaves, forming short, irregular, blotch-like mines. In later instars it lives externally, feeding in spun leaves and often twisting those of tender shoots. The larvae can cause direct damage to strawberries by tunneling into the flesh beneath the calyx.
Larvae of this species are also occasionally found on garden and glasshouse-grow ornamentals (Alford, 1984; Alford, 1995).


Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor and Trans-Caucasia.


Pheromone unknown.


Z 10-12Ac (Witzgall et al., 1996b)


(Record from Italy)
Apanteles emarginatus (Nees)
Chelonus canescens Wesm.
Habrobracon nigricans (Szepl.)
Elachertus sp.
Campoplex sp.

(Record from France)
Hypomicrogaster tiro (Reinh.)