Name: Strawberry tortrix moth, Acleris comariana
An exotic species, not found in Australia. It is mainly a pest of species from the family Rosaceae and is present in the USA, Canada, Europe and northern Asia, the Mediterranean Basin and South-East Asia. Hosts include strawberry, hawthorn, Malus spp., cinquefoil (Potentilla sp.), avens and comarum. It has also been reported feeding on azaleas and rhododendron (the only known host plants outside Rosaceae).
Since this species is a medium sized, brown moth with few distinctive features, it is similar in appearance to many native moths that are roughly the same size, shape and colour, particularly those from the same family (Tortricidae).
In Europe there are two generations during warmer months (late spring to early autumn)
Eggs: First generation eggs hatch in approximately 10 days; those of the second generation turn a reddish colour and hatch the following spring.
Immatures: Small caterpillars have a white body and a black head. The body of larger larvae is relatively green and their head turns reddish-brown or yellow head. They feed inside tied or folded leaves and on flowers of some hosts.
Pupae: Pupation occurs within rolled leaves, or between the stem and petioles.
Adults: Are yellowish-brown to reddish brown in colour, have a wingspan of about 10-17mm. Some individuals may have a triangular (or sub-triangular), dark mark mid-way between the base and tip of each forewing (the wing you see when they are at rest). There is significant colour variation and may appear more grey or lighter in colour, particularly individuals that are relatively old. The dark region varies in size and shape and sometimes isn’t present.
Eggs are laid mainly on the lower surface of mature leaves on plants of all ages, but older plants are preferred. However there appears to be significant variation in egg laying behaviour depending on the exact strawberry variety. Larvae tie or fold leaves together but may also feed on flowers. Feeding on strawberry flowers distort fruit development resulting in reduced yield. This normally only occurs when populations are relatively high.
If this species is suspected it should be reported to your local biosecurity agency or call the emergency plant pest hotline: 1800 084 881
For more information, visit the Pest ID website.
An initiative of the Nursery Levy funded National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program (NY15004) and ‘Building the resilience and on-farm biosecurity capacity of the Australian production nursery industry’ Project (NY15002).