Epiphyas postvittana

Author: (Walker, 1863)

Light-brown apple moth
Apple leaf roller

Species Overview:

Adult: 16-25 mm wingspan, basal half of forewing usually well demarcated. An extremely variable species with numerous recurring forms.
Egg: flat, broadly oval; pale green, turning yellowish during development; deposited in batches of 3-150 eggs, covered by almost transparent coating.
Larva: up to 20 mm in length; abdomen pale yellowish green, darker dorsally; pinacula pale, setae whitish; head pale brown; prothoracic plate light greenish brown, divided medially by a pale greenish line; anal plate light brownish green; anal comb light green; thoracic legs brown [Epiphyas postvittana larva ].
Pupa: 8-10 mm long; dark reddish brown.

Taxonomic Description:


Epiphyas postvittana male 1
Epiphyas postvittana male 2
Epiphyas postvittana males
External characters: Antenna weakly dentate-ciliate. 16-21 mm wingspan; costal fold well developed, from base to about two fifths of costa. Basal half of forewing light buff or pale yellow, contrasting strongly with the dark brown and dark ferruginous colouration of the distal half, the demarcation often emphasized by the deeper colouration of the oblique narrow median fascia, the inner edge of which is sharply defined and usually straight, but sometimes slightly sinuate at the middle; subapical spot obscure, its inner margin usually defined by ferruginous ground colouration separating it from the median fascia. Hindwing grey (Bradley et al., 1973).

male genitalia E. postvittana
Genitalia: Basal half of valva strongly arced at costa, inner side thickly clothed with long hair-like setae, with large brachiola; sacculus strongly sclerotized, broad, tapering distally. Gnathos terminating into a shallow, sharply pointed, hook. Transtilla broad laterally, divided by membranous section medially, dorsal ridge sclerotized and almost straight, with thorn-like projections varying in number and size. Aedeagus straight, slightly broader and curved a little basally, with three large deciduous cornuti.


Epiphyas postvittana female 1
Epiphyas postvittana female 2
Epiphyas postvittana females
External characters: Wingspan 17-25 mm; antenna minutely ciliate; forewing longer than in male, apex produced, costal fold absent. General colouration of the forewing more uniform, with less contrast between the basal and distal halves; median fascia usually reduced.

female gen. E. postvittana
Genitalia: Papillae analis fairly large. Ostium membranous, and with a narrow, strongly sclerotized and somewhat uneven rim. Antrum bilamellate. Ductus bursae long, widening almost immediately beyond the antrum, at the inception of the ductus seminalis, to about twice its width and dilating slightly to enter the bursa copulatrix. Corpus bursae with a strong thorn-like signum bearing a prominent capitulum in the form of a bulbous knob.


Considerable variation is found in the males. In strongly marked forms the distal half of the forewing may vary from reddish brown to blackish, often with purplish mottling, the contrasting pale basal half may be sparsely speckled with black. Lightly marked forms resembling the female in appearance occur; an extreme form in which the usually darker outer half of the forewing is light and the subapical spot discernible is uncommon. In females, only minor variation is found; often the forewing is irrorate with black in both the basal and distal halves of the wing (Bradley et al., 1973).


There are generally three generations per year in Southern Australia. The first or "spring generation" eggs are laid in October by the adults which develop from overwintering larvae. First generation adults occurs in December and oviposition through late December into early January, when the second or "summer generation" begins. These larvae grow rapidly and pupate during March and April. The third or "winter generation" eggs are laid in April, and the resulting larvae overwinter to pupate in September and complete the cycle. The overwintering larvae do not undergo diapause but develop slowly, feeding on ground cover vegetation or fallen leaves. During the warm period from December to March, the second and third generations overlap, although generation population peaks occur. A partial fourth generation may develop during the latter part of the summer.
Mating occurs shortly after adult emergence, and oviposition begins 2-7 days later. Eggs are deposited in imbricate masses on the upper surfaces of leaves of smooth-leafed plants, such as apple, pear, apricot and citrus. Neonate larvae emerge after 1-2 weeks of oviposition and disperse before settling down to feed at leaf margins or around the midrib or main veins of the underside of young leaves. The larvae go through five, six or occasionally seven instars. They grow to about 20 mm, feeding principally on the undersides of leaves within the protection of silken webbing and constructing typical "spin-ups" or "leaf rolls" as they mature. The larvae may web together leaves, fruits, a bud and one or more leaves, leaves and fruit, or may simply fold and web individual leaves. Pupation occurs within these sites. The light brown apple moth completes two to four generations per year in New Zealand, depending on latitude, the biology is similar to that in Australia (Wearing et al., 1991).
This species was unknown in Europe until 1936 when breeding colonies were found on ornamental spindle (Euonymus japonica) in South-Western England. Here, there are two overlapping generations annually, the adults occurring from May to October with peaks of activity in June and from August to September. Pupation occurs in May and in August. Under protected conditions the life-cycle varies and adults can appear in late autumn or during the winter (Alford, 1995).

Host plants:

It has been recorded from over 250 plant species, including apple (Malus), pear (Pyrus), grape (Vitis), Citrus, persimmon (Diospyros), kiwi fruit (Actinidia), raspberry (Rubus), strawberry (Fragaria), boysenberry (Rubus), blueberry (Vaccinium), blackcurrant (Ribes), avocado (Persea) and some vegetable and ornamental crops (Azara serrata, Camillia, Ceanothus, Drimys, Embothrium coccineum var. longifolium, Euonymus japonica, Laurus nobilis, Lonicera, Olearia, Leptospermum scoparium, Phygelius, Pittosporum, Pyracantha, Rhododendron, Skimmia japonica). The species has also been recorded from Pinus radiata.


This species is a serious pest of pome and stone fruits, and many other horticultural crops in Australia and New Zealand. Damage is caused by larvae feeding on the foliage, buds, shoots and fruits, but fruit damage has the greatest economic impact. The larvae feed mainly from the surface, often where a leaf is tied to the fruit or between fruits, and this can lead to the formation of irregular blemishes. These may callus over or allow the entry of rot organisms. Minor damage can take the form of pin-pricks or "stings". The larvae may also cause internal damage by entering fruits through the calyx. Short-stemmed fruits in clusters are especially susceptible to damage. In the absence of insecticide, the percentage damage to fruits in Australia usually ranges from 5 to 20 percent and can exceed 30 percent. In New Zealand, damage to unsprayed crops is commonly 50 percent (Wearing et al., 1991). In England the pest is now well established on various outdoor and glasshouse ornamentals (Alford, 1995).


Australia; introduced to Tasmania, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, England.


E 11-14Ac : 13.3 *
E 9E 11-14Ac : 0.65 *
(Bellas et al., 1983)

Components marked with * are involved in attraction.


Of eggs:
Trichogramma funiculatum Carver (Trichogrammatidae)
Trichogrammatoidea bactrae fumata Nagaraja (Trichogrammatidae)

Of larva:
Apanteles sicarius Marshall (Braconidae)
Apanteles tasmanicus (Cameron) (Braconidae)
Cotesia ruficrus (Haliday) (Braconidae)
Cotesia demeter (Wilkinson) (Braconidae)
"Ophion" sp. (Ichneumonidae)
Elachertus sp. (Eulophidae)
Eulophus spp. (Eulophidae)
Goniozus sp. (Bethylidae)
Pales funesta (Hutton) (Tachinidae)
Pales feredayi (Hutton) (Tachinidae)
Trigonospila brevifacies (Hardy) (Tachinidae)

Of pupa:
Aucklandella sp. (Ichneumonidae)
Lissopimpla excelsa (Costa) (Ichneumonidae)
Echthromorpha intricatoria (Fabricius) (Ichneumonidae)
Xanthopimpla rhopaloceros Kreiger (Ichneumonidae)
Glabridorsum stokesii (Cameron) (Ichneumonidae)
Brachymeria phya (Walker) (Chalcididae)
Brachymeria teuta (Walker) (Chalcididae)
Eupteromalus sp. (Pteromalidae)