Light Brown Apple Moth
Light Brown Apple Moth, Apple Leafroller , Australian Leafroller
The Light Brown Apple Moth is an insect belonging to the insect family containing the tortrix moths (Tortricidae). The moths in this family aren't typically pests but this particular species can cause some trouble in gardens and glasshouse. It originates in Australia, so was probably introduced to the UK by accident. The caterpillars feeding behaviour causes the leaves of apple (and in some cases grapes and berries) to start rolling inwards from the margins. The caterpillars use these leaves to create a shelter that conceals them whilst they feed and develop, for this reason, they can sometimes go unnoticed. Young caterpillars will eat the leaf tissue on the undersides of leaves whilst the older larvae construct additional feeding areas using a leaf and fruit or developing buds. Recordings of this insect exist across California and Florida so far.
These insects can damage fruits of apple, grapes and some berry plants.
Moths and caterpillars are eaten by an array of garden wildlife. If found, caterpillars can be fed to the birds.
The adult moth is small, the wingspan reaching as far as 2.5cm but can be as little as 1.4cm. The wings are distinctively curved, the top half is a light brown whereas the remaining area a darker shade of brown. Tip: The wings lack banding as seen in the carnation tortrix moth. Larvae look like small green caterpillars, however, they are normally concealed by silk and leaves.
Leaves and buds may become enclosed in silk and eaten by the caterpillars. New buds may be penetrated, and petals stuck together and closed with silk. Leaves may start to look brown and crooked. Sometimes caterpillars can bore into fruits.
Australia, New Zealand and the British Isles. Some parts of North America.
It's advised that plants can tolerate light damage by these caterpillars. By squeezing bound leaves you can squash the caterpillars and pupae.
For heavier infestations, control may be achieved with pyrethroid sprays such as deltamethrin and fenvalerate. Sprays containing these chemicals can sometimes remain active (toxic) within soil media for years, so please take care to follow the manufacturers' instructions. Check with your local regulating body for guidance on active ingredients and their authorisation for use. Plants that are in flower should never be sprayed due to the danger they pose to pollinating insects.
There are about 100 species that this moth will readily use as a food plant, but Dianthus spp. seems to be most severely affected.