PMN Crop News Homepage   

Posted 15 April 2008. PMN Crop News.

The Light Brown Apple Moth: Everything You Always Wanted to Know But Were Afraid to Ask

University of California-Davis.

Davis, California (April 9, 2008)--California’s newest invasive pest, the light brown apple moth, is fully described in the current issue (April-June 2008) of the University of California’s California Agriculture journal. The roughly half-inch moth has become the subject of intense debate in recent months as the state grapples with eradication and control plans, including proposals to apply pheromones aerially over much of the Bay Area.


UC scientists reviewed global research on the light brown apple moth for the peer-reviewed article, which includes detailed information on its host plants, life cycle, and potential crop damage and control options in California. For full text of the article, go to:

The light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana) is a tortricid leafroller. The pest, native to Australia, most likely arrived in California in contaminated nursery stock. It was first positively identified in March 2007 from a specimen collected in Berkeley. As of February 2008, about 17,000 male light brown apple moths had been caught in pheromone traps in 14 California counties.

Known to feed on at least 250 plants species, the light brown apple moth prefers plants in the aster, legume, knotweed and rose families.

“If light brown apple moth continues to spread, several vegetable and fruit crops may be affected, such as apples, pears, caneberries and peppers,” wrote the authors, led by Lucia Varela, UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management advisor. “California growers already deal with one or more leafroller pest species on most of these crops, and the same approaches would be used against light brown apple moth. However, the primary concern is the trade restrictions imposed by importing countries.”

A related news story in California Agriculture journal reports that Mexico and Canada have already restricted imports of crops and plants from areas infested with light brown apple moth. China may follow with similar restrictions, while other countries, including Chile, Korea, Peru and South Africa, “list the moth as a quarantine pest and might require certification that a California export is pest-free.”

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are working jointly to control the moth’s spread, with a $74.5 million budget in 2008 for eradication, research, monitoring and regulation.

California Agriculture is the University of California’s peer-reviewed journal of research in agricultural, human and natural resources. For a free subscription, go to:, write to or call 510-642-2431 extension 33.

Marshall Johnson
UC Cooperative Extension Entomologist