Zeiraphera rufimitrana

Author: (Herrich-Schäffer, 1851)

Red-headed fir tortricid

Species Overview:

Adult: 12-16 mm wingspan; forewing ground colour white, overlaid with ochreous and coarsely strigulated with fuscous and with ochreous markings, mixed or overlaid with dark tawny brown; basal patch of the forewing obtusely angled. Hindwing fuscous, darker apically.
Egg: whitish yellow, later changing to orange-yellow; deposited singly or in groups of up to eight under the scales on the young shoots, usually near the crown of the tree.
Larva: 9-11 mm long; head varying from yellowish brown to reddish brown, area of stemmata and postero-lateral region blackish; prothoracic plate yellowish or pale greenish brown; abdomen brownish yellow, sometimes tinged with green, paler ventrally, translucent; pinacula slightly darker than integument, large and moderately prominent; peritreme of spiracles black; anal plate weakly sclerotized; anal comb absent; thoracic legs greenish white.
Pupa: 7 mm long; light reddish brown, wings sometimes tinged with green; frons narrow and convex between antennae; abdominal segments 2-7 with two transverse rows of spines oriented backwards (spines of caudal row smaller than those of anterior row); segments 8-9 bear single rows of spines. The anal segment bears four pairs of thick hooked bristles dorsally and 1 pair ventrally. Spun up amongst leaf litter on the ground.

Taxonomic Description:


Zeiraphera rufimitrana adults
External characters: 12-16 mm wingspan. Forewing narrow, without costal fold; termen slightly convex. Ground colour white, overlaid with ochreous and coarsely strigulated with fuscous; markings ochreous mixed or overlaid with dark tawny brown, variably bordered with shining white mixed with plumbeous; basal and subbasal fasciae forming a well-defined basal patch, varying from diffusely strigulated to almost uniform dark brown, darkest along its outer edge which is obtusely angulated and usually slightly produced at middle; median fascia oblique, moderately broad throughout, confluent with pre-tornal marking, edges rather diffuse but sometimes sharply defined; tornal fascia well developed, reaching to costal strigulae, dilated in upper part of distal area, darkened with blackish brown and confluent with a small dark apical spot; subterminal fascia reduced to a linear sprinkling of ochreous mixed with blackish scales along termen; cilia grey, with a blackish grey sub-basal line. Hindwing fuscous, darker apically; cilia grey, with a dark sub-basal line (Bradley et al., 1979).

male genitalia Z. rufimitrana
Genitalia: Uncus rudimentary; gnathos absent; socii large and curved outward. Valva without clasper. Basal projection of valva biramose. Ventral margin of valva with shallow notch before cucullus. Apex of cucullus rounded, not narrowing distally.


External characters: Similar to male.

female gen. Z. rufimitrana
Genitalia: Ovipositor telescopic; apophyses long; eighth tergite partially membranous; sterigma strongly reduced, represented by aciculate patches of membrane; antrum sclerotized; cingulum situated posterior to middle of ductus bursae; two signa present in corpus bursae.


In Japan the subspecies Zeiraphera rufimitrana truncata Oku occurs, feeding on Abies sachalinensis.


Minor variation occurs in the depth and intensity of the forewing markings and the extent and clarity of their white mixed with plumbeous edging. In heavily marked specimens the markings are almost uniform blackish brown and emphasized in outline by the white mixed with plumbeous edging (Bradley et al., 1979).


Adults fly from the end of June until August. They are active at twilight and during the night; flight and oviposition occur in the top part of dominating fir trees. The eggs are laid singly or in groups of up to eight on the inner side of the dry bud scales at the base of the youngest shoots or under lichens. The eggs hibernate in diapause. In spring, the newly hatched larvae penetrate into the buds from the top when the outer bud scales open. Up to six young larvae may be found per bud when the density is high. Webs and resins exuding from the feeding sites on the needles keep the outer scales attached to the buds for longer than normal. These are the symptoms of infestation. The larvae spend two-thirds of their developmental period under the protection of the bud cover. Older larvae continue to feed on the new needles during flushing of the buds. Last year's or older needles are not attacked. The larvae move onward to new shoots when the first ones have been deprived of their needles. Needles and excrements are spun together to a loose web. The shoot axis may also be nibbled superficially. The full-grown larvae leave the trees on a silk thread in the end of May until the beginning of June and pupate in a loose cocoon in the litter of fallen needles. Pupae emerge after approximately 20 days (Bogenschütz, 1991).

Host plants:

Abies alba; also recorded from Abies cephalonica, Abies balsamea, Pinus pinea and Picea excelsa.


Z. rufimitrana damage on Abies
Z. rufimitrana damage to Abies bud, with cocoon of parasitoid

Larvae feed in buds and on new needles. Needles and excrements are spun together to a loose web. The shoot axis may also be nibbled superficially. Seriously infested crowns stain reddish. Most damage is done to the tops of the trees in stands more than 40 years old. Damage consists usually only of a loss in timber increment. The trees recover rather fast from heavy infestations over a period of 2-3 years. However, fir trees may die because of secondary pests when gradations of Choristoneura murinana and Epinotia nigricana proceed simultaneously.
High feeding damage may be expected when more than 70 larvae per meter of fir branch emerge, even when the trees have a good foliage of needles (Bogenschütz, 1991).


Central Europe to Eastern Russia, Mongolia, Korea and Japan.
Recorded from the Netherlands by Kuchlein and Naves, 1999.


Pheromone unknown.


Exochus tibialis Hlgr. (Ichneumonidae)
Pimpla ruficollis Grav. (Ichneumonidae)
Horogenes exareolatus Ratz. (Ichneumonidae)
Horogenes sp. (Ichneumonidae)
Phaeogenes nanus Wesm. (Ichneumonidae)
Lissonota sp. (Ichneumonidae)
Chorinaeus facialis Thoms. (Ichneumonidae)
Lissonota folii Thoms. (Ichneumonidae)
Omorga sp. (Ichneumonidae)
Eubadizon extensor L. (Braconidae)
Macrocentrus marginator Nees (Braconidae)
Blacus trivialis Hal. (Braconidae)
Apanteles dilectus Hal. (Braconidae)
Apanteles murinanae Capek et Zwölf (Braconidae)
Apanteles lineipes Wesm. (Braconidae)
Apanteles longicauda Wesm. (Braconidae)
Eubadizon sp. (Braconidae)
Eupteromalus sp. (Chalcidoidea)
Hemiptarsenus sp. (Chalcidoidea)

Bessa selecta Meig. (Tachinidae).

Zeiraphera suzukii Oku

In Japan, the species Zeiraphera suzukii Oku occurs, the larvae feeding on Picea jezoensis.
This species is usually slightly smaller (12 mm wingspan) than the Japanese subspecies Zeiraphera rufimitrana truncata Oku (13-14 mm wingspan).

The tegumen in the male genitalia is obtusely pointed in Zeiraphera suzukii (rounded in Zeiraphera rufimitrana truncata) [male genitalia Z. suzukii ].
In the female genitalia, the signa are truncated apically and one is slighty smaller than the other, while in Zeiraphera rufimitrana, one is much smaller than the other [female genitalia Z. suzukii ].