Epinotia pygmaeana

Author: (Hübner, 1799)

'Kleiner Fichtennadelmarkwickler'
Pygmy needle tortricid

Species Overview:

Adult: 12-14 mm wingspan; forewing of male without a costal fold; ground colour ochreous white, suffused with grey and brown; markings brown to reddish-brown, coarsely suffused with fuscous; sub-basal and median fasciae angled sharply outwards; dorsum with pale patch of ground colour; hindwing white, infuscate in apical third and with a sprinkling of fuscous along inner margin. Antenna of male strongly biciliate-fasciculate.
Egg: Oval, 0.8 x 0.5 mm; white turning brownish during development; usually deposited singly on the base and under-side of an old needle.
Larva: ca. 10 mm long; head black or dark brown mottled with blackish posteriorly, with region of stemmata black and a blackish mark postero-laterally; prothoracic plate black, or brown mottled with black; abdomen green or yellowish green; pinacula moderately large, concolorous with integument; anal plate weakly sclerotized; anal comb present; thoracic legs light brown.
Pupa: 5 mm long; light brown; spines on 10th abdominal segment relatively strong; apical setae not hooked. In a whitish silken cocoon spun up amongst leaf litter or in the earth.

Taxonomic Description:


Epinotia pygmaeana adult 1
Epinotia pygmaeana adult 2
Epinotia pygmaeana adults
External characters: 12-14 mm wingspan. Antenna strongly biciliate-fasciculate. Forewing without a costal fold; ground colour ochreous white, variably suffused with grey and brown, diffusely strigulated with plumbeous distally; markings brown to reddish-brown, coarsely suffused with fuscous; basal and sub-basal fasciae poorly defined, sub-basal fascia angled sharply outwards medially and sometimes produced and reaching median fascia; median fascia with margins diffuse, inner edge oblique to dorsum, outer edge slightly more oblique from costa to middle, thence sharply angled dorsad, confluent dorsally with a poorly defined pre-tornal marking; a moderately conspicuous, subquadrate pale patch of ground colour on dorsum between sub-basal and median fasciae; a weakly developed fasciate tornal marking, often transversely striated with black and edged by vertical plumbeous strigulae, forming an ocellus-like patch; subterminal fascia usually indeterminate; cilia grey, with a dark grey sub-basal line and a moderately distinct whitish subapical notch on termen. Hindwing white, infuscate in apical third and with a sprinkling of fuscous along inner margin; cilia grey, becoming lighter proximally, with a dark sub-basal line (Bradley et al., 1979).

male genitalia E. pygmaeana
Genitalia: Uncus bifurcate, each lobe pointed apically; socii long, erect. Valva with a shallow notch in ventral margin, cucullus hardly expanding terminally.


External characters: Antennae simple. Forewing colour and marking similar to male.

female genitalia E. pygmaeana
Genitalia: Ovipositor short; sterigma small; slightly broadening and weakly concave posteriorly; antrum elongated; cingulum small, situated medially in ductus bursae, ductus seminalis originating here; corpus bursae with two signa, one much smaller than the other.


When the forewing markings lack the fuscous suffusion the colouration is distinctly reddish-brown, the markings showing hardly any contrast with the ground colour. When the ground colour is clear or only weakly suffused the markings contrast strongly (Bradley et al., 1979).


Moths fly from late March to early June. Females usually deposit their eggs singly on the base and under-side of an old needle. They hatch after about 30 days. Larvae occur in June and July, feeding on Picea and Abies, at first boring into the opening buds and mining the young needles, ejecting frass, and later living amongst spun needles. Bud scales remain spun to the needles, as a 'hood' on the top of the shoot. The larval stage lasts 5 to 7 weeks. Pupation occurs in whitish silken cocoons spun up amongst leaf litter or in the earth. Either last instar larvae (Kuznetsov, 1987; Bentinck and Diakonoff, 1968) or pupae (Führer, 1978; Bradley et al., 1979) overwinter.

Host plants:

Picea abies, Picea excelsa, Picea sitchensis, Abies alba.


Epinotia pygmaeana damage
Larvae mine, and later spin the needles of their host, causing a decrease in growth, but trees do not die.


Northern and Central Europe to Eastern Russia.


Pheromone unknown.


on eggs:
Trichogramma evanescens Westw. (Trichogrammatidae)

Other species associated with Abies or Picea, not included in the species list:

1. Epinotia subsequana (Haworth)

Epinotia subsequana adult 1; Epinotia subsequana adult 2; male genitalia E. subsequana ; female genitalia E. subsequana
Forewing of male also without costal fold; hindwing white, infuscate in apical third; male antenna not biciliate-fasciculate.
Male genitalia: Socii without setae; valva short, ventral margin with deep notch.
Female genitalia: Signa very small.
Larvae feed on Picea and Abies (Europe to South-Western Russia).

2. Epinotia granitana (Herrich-Schäffer)

Epinotia granitana adult 1; Epinotia granitana adult 2; male genitalia E. granitana; female genitalia E. granitana
Forewing of male also without costal fold; ground colour pale grey, reticulate with blackish.
Male genitalia: Socii triangular, distally covered with setae; valva slender.
Female genitalia: Lamella antevaginalis consisting of two joining elongate sclerites; signa slender.
Larvae are predominantly found on Abies, rarely also on Picea (Northern and Central Europe to Western Russia and Kazakhstan).

3. Epinotia fraternana (Haworth)
(syn.: proximana)

Epinotia fraternana adults; male genitalia E. fraternana; female genitalia E. fraternana
Forewing of male with costal fold; ground colour silvery white, markings vary from tawny to brown.
Male genitalia: Ventral margin of valva with notch; socii long.
Female genitalia: Lamella postvaginalis elongate, rounded caudally.
Larvae are recorded from Abies spp., Picea spp. and Pinus sylvestris (Central and south-west Europe to south-west Russia).