The adult moth is grey with light grey and copper stripes on its wings, and has an average wingspan of 17 mm. In most regions of the US, the codling moth is has two to three generations each year, and sometimes a partial fourth generation. Females lay eggs on fruit or leaves and the black-headed larvae attack the fruit immediately upon hatching. First generation larvae usually enter the fruit through the blossom (calyx); the later generations bore through the skin of the fruit. The larvae burrow into the core and feed on the seeds, spending three to four weeks growing inside as the fruit rots. Fruit attacked by codling moth caterpillar are not only more susceptible to disease, but also act as vectors to spread rot to other apples on the tree. When mature, the larvae exit the fruit and pupate on the bark of the tree, on the ground or on structures nearby, and emerge as a moth after two-three weeks. The last generation of the year overwinters as a pupa.
Codling moth infestations are often managed with pesticides. To time applications, pheromone traps, which contain synthetic copies of the attractive chemicals female moths use to lure males over for mating, can be used to predict peak flying times and estimate the insects' lifecycle. Sometimes pheromone traps are also used in large quantity to trap and remove all males from the area, preventing the females from laying fertilized eggs. Application of codling moth granulosis virus (CMGV) in a water based formulation at egg hatching is another common and effective treatment. CMGV kills larvae who ingest it by eroding their gut membrane, usually in 7-10 days. Codling moth eggs are also susceptible to parasitism by Trichogramma wasps.
Because of extensive study of this organism’s genome, and because it is relatively easy to rear in the lab, this moth may become a model organism for scientific research on the Tortricidae, a family containing numerous other pest species.
(Bessin 2010; English 2001; Wikipedia 2011)
- Bessin, R. 2010. Codling Moth. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, ENTFACT-203. Retrieved 10 September 2011 from http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef203.asp
- English, L.M. 2001. Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) and its control. Guide H-427, Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico State University. Retrieved 10 September 2011 from aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h/h-427.pdf
- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 August, 2011. "Cydia pomonella". Retrieved 10 September 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Codling_moth&oldid=445406608" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Codling_moth&oldid=445406608
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
caterpillar of Cydia pomonella feeds within fruit of Malus domestica
Other: major host/prey
Foodplant / internal feeder
caterpillar of Cydia pomonella feeds within pear of Pyrus communis sens. lat.
Other: minor host/prey
Animal / parasitoid / endoparasitoid
larva of Elodia morio is endoparasitoid of larva of Cydia pomonella
Animal / parasitoid / endoparasitoid
larva of Pseudoperichaeta nigrolineata is endoparasitoid of larva of Cydia pomonella
Evolution and Systematics
The coddling moth attaches its eggs to leaves using glue.
"A European moth that is a serious pest in orchards, lays its eggs in spirals glued together around the twigs of fruit trees. When they hatch, the young caterpillars, while sustaining themselves by eating the leaves immediately around them, spin a large silken shroud around the branch so big that it can accommodate them all. They spend the day within it, concealed from the sight of hungry predatory birds. But when night comes they set out in long columns to demolish more leaves.
"After they have eaten everything in their immediate neighbourhood, a single scout sets out to prospect for more. As it explores new parts of the tree, it lays down behind it a trail of scent that exudes from glands on its rear end. This enables it to find its way back to shelter before dawn. The next night, its companions inspect the trail. If it has a single track, as might happen if the caterpillar was taken in the night by some hunter, they will ignore it. But if there is a double track, indicating that the scout returned and if, furthermore, its smell indicates that the scout had a good meal, then the whole colony of several hundred will set off in procession to strip the leaves from yet another part of the fruit tree." (Attenborough 1995:58)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Cydia pomonella
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cydia pomonella
Public Records: 55
Specimens with Barcodes: 166
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
The codling moth (Cydia pomonella) is a member of the Lepidopteran family Tortricidae. They are known as an agricultural pest, their larva being the common apple worm or maggot. It is native to Europe and was introduced to North America, where it has become one of the regular pests of apple orchards. It is found almost worldwide. It also attacks pears, walnuts, and other tree fruits.
The codling moth is greyish with light grey and copper stripes on its wings, and has an average wingspan of 17 mm. The females lay eggs on fruit or leaves in summer and the black-headed yellow larvae attack the fruit immediately upon hatching. Each larva burrows into the fruit, eats for around three weeks, then leaves the fruit to overwinter and pupate elsewhere in spring and emerge as an adult moth in summer. Most nourishment is obtained by feeding on the proteinaceous seeds.
The codling moth is bivoltine in most regions of the USA — in the Pacific Northwest there is a partial third generation.
Codling moth infestations are often managed with pesticides.
Successful synthesis of codlemone, the codling moth female sex pheromone blend, has led to behavior-based monitoring and management. Pheromone traps are used to capture male moths for monitoring and setting biofix, which is the time of first flight for codling moth.
Biofix is used with weather data to run degree day models (see below) which predict with excellent accuracy the phenology of the population in the field, thereby allowing growers to time their management actions to target codling moth when they are most susceptible. A kairomone, which is a feeding attractant, can be used to capture males and females (DA lure). Mating disruption can be used to effectively manage codling moth populations in many cases. Mating disruption involves the use of a pheromone-impregnated release device, typically made of plastic or rubber. Dispensers are distributed throughout the orchard and emit female pheromone at a high, relatively constant rate. The mechanism by which mating disruption affects males is poorly understood; it may increase the time required for males to find females, thus reducing fecundity, or it may simply mask the position of females to searching males, reducing mating substantially.
Another method for control and sampling, 'trunk banding', consists of wrapping a corrugated cardboard strip around the tree trunk. Larvae making their way down the tree to pupate after exiting the infested fruits will use bands as pupation sites. Bands may then be removed and burned.
The codling moth is not a great candidate for biological pest control, as the larvae are well protected within the fruit for the majority of development. However, their eggs are susceptible to biological control by Trichogramma wasps. The wasps deposit their eggs into codling moth eggs, and the developing wasp larvae consume the moth embryo inside.
The most common biological control of codling moth is the application of codling moth granulosis virus (CMGV)in a water based formulation including the granulosis virus, Occlusion Bodies (OBs). CMGV occurs naturally in all major pome fruit growing regions around the world. CMGV is widely used in the commercial and organically grown orchards of Europe and North America. A widely used brand is Virosoft CP4. CP4 is the region of Quebec where the CP4 strain was originally isolated. The CMGV is applied at initiation of egg hatch. The codling moth larvae consume the OB. Next the OB is degraded by the alkaline gut of the Codling moth larvae. Then the virus infests the gut membrane linings and reproduces within the larvae. The larvae then stop feeding and eventually die within 3–7 days.
Recent trials of nontoxic kaolin clay-based sprays indicate an effective alternative means of codling moth suppression may be on the horizon. Codling moths and other pests find leaves and fruit covered in kaolin clay unfit for laying eggs. Tiny particles of the clay tend to attach to their bodies, disturbing and repelling them. In addition, trees covered in kaolin clay can make them less recognizable as habitat to codling moths. Full coverage of trees is necessary to achieve effective suppression. If used only at the beginning of the fruit growing season, kaolin clay often comes off by itself due to wind and rain attrition, leaving fruit clean at harvest time.
The prime difficulty in dealing with codling moth infestations seems to lie with appropriate timing. The method of calculating 'degree-days' is often used by orchardists to approximate when a particular pest will reach a particular stage of development during a given season. Since stages of insect development are triggered by the accumulation of a certain amount of heat over time, this calculation involves careful tracking of changes in daily temperature. In the case of codling moths, adults emerging from pupae in bark and other overwintering spaces will mate and begin laying eggs soon after petal fall. For a given moth, this migration can take place within a mere two to three hours. Effective control using any method, therefore, depends crucially on identifying when decisive moments such as these occur.
- Darby, Gene (1958). What is a Butterfly. Chicago: Benefic Press. p. 43.
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