Apple Moth

Epiphyas Postvittana

Last updated: June 16, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Jordan Roper/Shutterstock.com

In Australia the LBAM causes $21.1 million annually in lost production and control costs

Apple Moth Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Lepidoptera
Family
Tortricidae
Genus
Epiphyas
Scientific Name
Epiphyas Postvittana

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Apple Moth Locations

Apple Moth Locations

Apple Moth Facts

Prey
Foliage, Fruit
Name Of Young
Caterpillar
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
In Australia the LBAM causes $21.1 million annually in lost production and control costs
Biggest Threat
Humans
Gestation Period
3-21 days
Wingspan
7-13 mm
Average Spawn Size
1.6mm
Litter Size
300-1,500 eggs
Habitat
Leaves, Shrubs, Fruit
Predators
Birds, Spiders, Wasps, Beetles
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Favorite Food
Fruit
Type
Insect
Common Name
Apple Moth
Nesting Location
Leaves

Apple Moth Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Yellow
Skin Type
Hair
Top Speed
23 mph
Lifespan
42-63 days
Weight
30g (1oz)
Length
7–13 mm
Age of Sexual Maturity
6-10 days
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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View all of the Apple Moth images!



The Light Brown Apple Moth is one of the most invasive species of moths that flood our fruits and vegetables.

As they are to grow up to 10 mm in length, apple moths burrow themselves and create their homes inside of leaves and the majority of common fruits. The apple moth was originally found in Australia, as well as being commonly found in the United States and Western European regions. They are identifiable while containing dark brown markings along with their pale yellow/light brown appearance. This moth is also known as “Apple Leafroller” or “LBAM” for short. 

Apple Moth Species, Types, and Scientific name 

Apple Moths are polyphagous insects that fall into the family Tortricidae, also falling into the order Lepidoptera. This order also involves other common moths such as the codling moth or the miller moth. The scientific name for the Light Brown Apple Moth is Epiphyas postvittana, with Epiphyas being also the name of their genus. 

Apple moth’s first made their appearance in Australia as its home of origin, then throughout early 2000 the growth in population with these insects made their way into The United States territory making up about 80% of the country, along with many European Territories being also inhabited. 

Apple moths, especially larvae, are found inside/around many growing apple farms and have been found to burrow inside millions of fruits. You can identify them by their light brown color with a few dark brown marks across their body. 

There are more than 1,000 different moth species within the Tortricidae family, but only one type of moth is the Light Brown Apple Moth. It is very hard to see the difference between this moth and its family members. There are a few ways of distinction, which would be through the color and shape of the wings. 

Appearance: How To Identify Apple Moth 

The Light Brown Apple Moth has part of its appearance already within its title, as it is painted light brown with pale yellow mixed. You can identify the Apple Moth separate from its family members by the dark brown markings on the tip of its wings and its back. The wings as well have a distinctive long and rounded shape but while not flying you can see the dark brown on the tips very clearly. This feature separates the Apple Moth from other Tortricidae members. 

Considering these moths are not prey to any other animal or species, they do not have any kind of defensive mechanisms. Apple Moths only have sensors within their antennas, which can detect any danger or threat to them. 

Apple moths are nocturnal creatures, they tend to be more active at night which is also when they start their mating rituals. Typically they will fly up to 600 meters (1969 ft) but not farther than 100 meters (328 ft) to mate. The female Apple Moth will mate and lay eggs between 6-10 days of life, then carry between 3-21 days.

The Apple Moth grows to about 10 mm (¼ inch) in a resting state. Compared to the largest moth on record which is the Hercules Moth (27 cm/11 inch), the Apple Moth makes a very small appearance! It weighs only 1-30 g or 0.03 ounces.

Habitat: Where to find The Apple Moth

Although The Apple Moths originated in Australia, they can also be found in Europe (Northwestern), North America, and of course the whole of Oceania. If you have fresh fruits or untreated agriculture, especially within a garden, you will most definitely find some either nested or hiding between leaves. Look out for apples or grapes with holes or strange brown cocoons that are in or around the fruit. Always clean and inspect all of your fresh produce before purchasing or picking to make sure they are free of any pests. 

Diet: What do Apple Moths eat? 

Apple Moths mainly eat fruits and vegetables, although there are a large number of foods they can be found in mainly pome fruits (apples, pears, etc), grapes, stone fruit, and citrus. Not only this but they are also found eating into stems of trees/plants which you could find in tree nurseries often. This causes damage to those plants as they grow. Although solitary, these moths will gather in places where food is plentiful and can infest over 200 plant species and about $2,000 worth of fresh produce daily. 

What Eats Apple Moths?

Apple Moths, typically in their larvae/cocoon state, are eaten by birds and spiders. However, they are also the prey of parasitic wasps and some beetles. 

Prevention: How to get rid of The Apple Moth 

It is very difficult to rid of these pests especially since they have created a lot of issues in the production of fresh fruits. They have destroyed millions of dollars worth of plants and food and it can be very difficult to stop the reproduction of these creatures. If you want to prevent them from infesting your home gardens or even tree nurseries, there are a few traps that are created specifically for the Light Brown Apple Moth that you can place along your garden rows and near your growing trees. These traps can be simply called “Moth Traps” and depending on the kind you would like, there are hanging options or ground options. Make sure to follow the instructions thoroughly to complete your task successfully! 

Some other forms of control that have been used are smothering oils, mating disruption, pesticides, and predator use. The oils are used to smother the moths and their eggs. Mating disruption is when synthetic pheromones are released in different areas to confuse the male moths, thereby disrupting the mating. In some countries such as Australia and New Zealand, a parasitic wasp is released that lays its eggs inside the moth larva. When they hatch they then eat the larvae and help reduce damage.

Another good way is to constantly check on your fruits and thin out the production. Make sure to clean out all of the rotten fruits you can find and check for holes that are typically already destroyed by the Apple Moth. 

Apple Moth Life Cycle

The main issue with apple moths is that they are generational. This means there is no break in their reproduction throughout the year. There is no “resting stage” during winter. In warmer climates, they continue to reproduce year-round, while in cooler climates reproduction is slowed down but not stopped completely.

Apple moths typically start mating between 6-10 days of adulthood, and the female can lay between 2-170 eggs each time they mate. Throughout their lives, females can produce between 300 and 1,500 eggs which are laid on the smooth leaves of their host plants. 

These eggs will hatch around 5-30 days after being laid and the larvae will emerge. This caterpillar will feed be in its larval stage for about 6-8 weeks although in warmer temperatures it can be as short as 3 weeks before they pupate. It will form a silk cover over itself to protect it while feeding. Larger larvae will also use silk threads to hang from to move themselves on to other host plants.

Once it pupates, it will last about 1-4 weeks again depending on climate, then after a few days of emerging, the cycle will continue.

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About the Author

Alan is a freelance writer and an avid traveler. He specializes in travel content. When he visits home he enjoys spending time with his family Rottie, Opie.

Apple Moth FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Apple Moths dangerous?

Apple Moths are not dangerous in direct contact, but they are harmful to foods and you must avoid consumption of any affected fruits at all costs. 

How many legs does the Apple Moth have?

The Apple Moth has 6 legs total.

How do you identify The Apple Moth?

Usually, it takes experts to examine the moth to determine if it is the Apple Moth, but typically you can tell by the dark brown marks on the edge of its wings.

How do you get rid of The Apple Moth?

Set moth traps throughout the infested area, along with making sure to clean out all old and rotten fruits to maintain the upkeep of your gardens or nurseries.

Why are Light Brown Apple Moths a problem?

Apple Moths have infested a very large amount of crops and trees. Especially in the State of California it has become a very serious situation ruining millions of dollars worth of crops along with the very famous redwood and cypress trees. There is a continuous quarantining/trapping for these pests to be regulated.

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_brown_apple_moth
  2. Butterfly Conservation, Available here: https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/light-brown-apple-moth#:~:text=The%20males%20are%20smaller%20than,and%20are%20attracted%20to%20light.
  3. IDTools, Available here: https://idtools.org/id/citrus/pests/factsheet.php?name=Light+brown+apple+moth
  4. UC Riverside, Available here: https://cisr.ucr.edu/invasive-species/light-brown-apple-moth
  5. CDFA, Available here: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/pdep/target_pest_disease_profiles/LBAM_PestProfile.html

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