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Winter moth

Operophtera brumata (L.)
Lepidoptera: Geometridae

Adult male has grayish-brown wings (A); the female has remnants of wings and so cannot fly. This, in combination with the female's large body, makes the legs appear to be long, and gives her the superficial appearance of a spider (B). Early larva is olive-green with a black head; later forms are a brighter green, with white stripes along the back and sides (C).


Mainly maritime provinces of eastern Canada, but also coastal MA and RI.


Attacks apple mainly, but also may be found on pear, cherry and plum. Larvae feed on early foliage, loosely spinning leaves together and eating holes in them; later they may eat flower buds and bite holes in developing fruitlets. Damaged sites heal and appear at harvest as a flat or concave area with a corky surface, or sometimes as a deep cleft if the feeding was deep (D).

Similar Species

Resembles the green pug (Chloroclystis rectangulata), particularly in the first 2 instars, but may be distinguished by distribution and larval coloration (several white stripes in later instars, as opposed to a single reddish dorsal stripe in the green pug).


If needed, insecticide applications may be directed against the young caterpillars soon after hatch, normally from the tight cluster to pink bud stages.

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