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Lesser appleworm

Grapholita prunivora (Walsh)
Lepidoptera: Tortricidae

The adult is a small gray moth with distinct small orange bands or patches on the wings; some blue is also evident in newly emerged specimens (A). The larva is pinkish white with a dark head and an anal comb (B).


Most fruit-growing states and provinces in eastern North America.


Attacks apple, plum, and cherry. Larvae form extensive shallow mines (accompanied by characteristic reddish frass) under the fruit skin (C) and may burrow deeper as they mature, although not into the core. Feeding injury in the fall is often limited to the calyx region (D). Damage can be confused with that of the redbanded leafroller (Argyrotaenia velutinana), whose damage is not accompanied by reddish frass.

Similar Species

Larvae resemble those of the oriental fruit moth (G. molesta), which also possesses an anal comb but is somewhat larger than the lesser appleworm. A stronger resemblance to the cherry fruitworm (G. packardi) is more difficult to resolve, although that species usually does not attack apple. Lesser appleworm larvae tend to retain their pinkish color when boiled and preserved in alcohol, as compared with the other two species. Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) damage is concurrent, but it feeds by tunneling to the fruit core, and does not possess an anal comb.


This insect has historically caused little damage in orchards receiving seasonal insecticide sprays, although softer programs may encourage an increase in these problems. Species presence and flight activity can be monitored with pheromone traps. Summer control measures against codling moth and oriental fruit moth will provide incidental control of this insect.

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