Lesser appleworm moth larvae burrow into apples—a bad surprise when eating an apple.
Native to northeastern North America, these pests of pomes and stone fruits have moved across the U.S. and into Canada.
Lesser appleworm moth hosts
Lesser appleworms (Grapholitha prunivora) call members of the rose family home. Hawthorn trees are the primary host of lesser apple worm moths, along with oaks and serviceberry shrubs. Unfortunately, apples and pears (pomes) are also vulnerable, along with stone fruits, such as apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and plums. As such, they are commonly known as plum moths.
Lesser appleworm moth identification
Adult lesser appleworm moths are only ¼” long. They are dark brown to almost black with white, grayish orange, or brown bands on the forewings. Larvae start out creamy-white with a dark head and only 1/20” long. As they feed and grow, they turn pinkish white and can reach up to 3/8” in length. Lesser appleworm pupa are golden brown and 1/5” long. Eggs are flat, oval, and very tiny (1/40”). These eggs start out white and shiny but they turn yellowish as they mature and you can see a red ring inside.
Lesser appleworm moth lifecycle
Lesser appleworm moths lay eggs on fruit and leaves. In 7–10 days, they hatch and larvae begin feeding on fruit. Three weeks later they spin cocoons around themselves where they will pupate under bark or on the ground in plant or fruit debris. This cycle continues allowing an average of three generations each summer.
Lesser appleworm moth damage
Lesser appleworm moth damage looks very similar to codling moth and oriental fruit moth damage, though the tunneling doesn’t usually go as deep. Initial infestations often cause fruit drop. Fruit entry holes are often seen near the calyx, or bud end, of the fruit, so check your fruit before taking a bite.
You can use pheromone traps to monitor for these pests, but control measures are generally not needed.
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