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Codling moth

Cydia pomonella (L.)
Lepidoptera: Tortricidae

The adult's forewings are striped with fine brown-gray lines and a distinctive bronze to brown-black oval spot at the tip (A). Eggs are laid on the leaves or fruit. The pinkish larva has a black head and a brown thoracic shield (B).


Widespread and a major pest in most fruit-growing states and provinces in eastern North America.


Attacks apple and pear mainly, although all deciduous tree fruits are susceptible. Larva produces reddish brown frass at the point of entry into the fruit—usually the calyx ("bottom") end (C)—and galleries in the flesh to the core of the fruit (D).

Similar Species

The larva can be confused with other species in this family, particularly oriental fruit moth (Grapholita molesta), which is very similar in appearance but possesses an anal comb. The lesser appleworm (G. prunivora), which also has an anal comb, is similar in appearance but is smaller (only 6 mm in length when full-grown) and less abundant than both codling moth and oriental fruit moth. Damage sometimes can be differentiated by the fact that lesser appleworm makes superficial tunnels under the surface of the fruit; codling moth, as contrasted with G. molesta, tends to damage the seeds as well as the fruit flesh.


Monitor the adults with pheromone traps and use a degree-day developmental model to time insecticide sprays; in the summer, broad-spectrum insecticides, kaolin clay, or selective viruses can be applied. Pheromone mating disruption has been of value in larger plantings (at least 5 acres).

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