Grapholita molesta (Busck, 1916)
Oriental Peach Moth
(previously known as Laspeyresia molesta)
Don Herbison-Evans
Stella Crossley

(Illustration by Arthur Cushman, USDA Systematics Entomology Laboratory, courtesy of

This Caterpillar is initially white. Later instars become shaded with pink. The head is brown with dark markings, the thoracic shield yellow, and the anal plate dark brown. The caterpillar is an international pest on fruit trees in ROSACEAE, particularly :

  • Peach ( Prunus persica ),

    although it will also attack other species including :

  • Quince ( Cydonia oblonga ),
  • Apple ( Malus pumila ),
  • Apricot ( Prunus armeniaca ),
  • Plum ( Prunus domestica ),
  • Nectarine ( Prunus species ), and
  • Pear ( Pyrus communis ).

    The caterpillars bore into young shoots, causing gumming and malformation.

    (Picture: courtesy of Peter Buchner, Austria)

    The adult moths are grey to brown with a pattern on each forewing which includes a complex pale patch near the middle of the hind margin, and diagonal stripes along the costa. The wingspan is about 1.3 cms. In courtship, the male moth emits pheromones from hairs on the tip of the abdomen, which the females find attractive.

    (Photo: courtesy of Eric LaGasa)

    The eggs are white, oval, with a diameter of about 0.g mm. They are laid singly on leaves, particularly young shoots, of the food plant. A female moth can lay over 200 eggs.

    (Picture: courtesy of Institute Nationalede Reserche Agricole, Paris)

    The species is found over much of the world including for example

  • Brazil,
  • China,
  • Japan,
  • New Zealand,
  • South Africa,
  • USA,

    and has been introduced into Australia by unfortunate accident, now occurring in:

  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales,
  • Australian Capital Territory,
  • Victoria,
  • Tasmania, and
  • South Australia.

    Various means have been suggested to control the species :

  • the insect growth regulator Tebufenozide,
  • low technology solutions,
  • mating disruption,
  • the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis ( BACILLACEAE ),
  • the larva-parasitoid wasp Diloa antipodalis ( ICHNEUMONIDAE ),
  • the larva-parasitoid wasp Dibrochys species ( PTEROMALIDAE ), and
  • the egg-parasitoid wasp Trichogramma ivelae ( TRICHOGRAMMATIDAE ).

    Further reading :

    August Busck,
    in: A.I. Quaintance & W.B. Wood,
    Laspeyresia molesta, an important new insect enemy of the peach,
    Journal of Agricultural Research Washington,
    Volume 7 (1916), pp. 373-377, Plates 26-31.

    Peter B. McQuillan, Jan A. Forrest, David Keane, & Roger Grund,
    Caterpillars, moths, and their plants of Southern Australia,
    Butterfly Conservation South Australia Inc., Adelaide (2019), p. 66.

    Australian Butterflies
    Australian Moths

    (updated 5 January 2010, 1 July 2019, 25 January 2021)