Operophtera brumata L Winter moth

This species is an important orchard pest, especially of apple; infestations also occur on bush

Fig. 311 Male winter moth, Operophtera brumata (x3).

fruits, including blueberry, currant and gooseberry. The larvae destroy unopened buds and also invade the leaves and blossom trusses. Later, attacks on apple fruitlets often result in the development on malformed fruit with corky scars and deep cavities extending to the core.


Moths are most numerous in November and December. Eggs are laid singly on the bark of host trees and they hatch in the early spring. Very young larvae are often blown about on fine threads of silk and, by this means, are often able to invade previously uninfested trees. Older larvae are relatively sedentary and secrete themselves amongst webbed leaves or blossom trusses. Larvae feed until late May or early June and then pupate in the soil, each in a flimsy, silken cocoon.


Adult female 5-6 mm long, dark greyish-brown, and virtually wingless. Adult male 22-28mm wingspan; forewings rounded, pale greyish-brown with wavy cross-lines; hindwings pale grey (Fig. 311). Larva up to 25mm long; body green with whitish or yellowish-white longitudinal lines, including one passing through the spiracles (Fig. 312); two pairs of abdominal prolegs (cf. March moth, Alsophila aescularia, p. 229); head green.

Fig. 312 Larva of winter moth, Operophtera brumata (x3): (a) lateral view of an abdominal segment (further enlarged).

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