Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Thaumatotibia leucotreta
(false codling moth)



Thaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth)


  • Last modified
  • 05 December 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Thaumatotibia leucotreta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • false codling moth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. leucotreta has long been known as a pest in tropical Africa but it has failed to invade other areas as yet.

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Thaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth); adult at rest, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. August 2016.
CaptionThaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth); adult at rest, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. August 2016.
Copyright©Ben Sale/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Thaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth); adult at rest, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. August 2016.
AdultThaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth); adult at rest, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. August 2016.©Ben Sale/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Thaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth) adult. Museum set specimen.
CaptionThaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth) adult. Museum set specimen.
Copyright©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin
Thaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth) adult. Museum set specimen.
AdultThaumatotibia leucotreta (false codling moth) adult. Museum set specimen.©Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Thaumatotibia leucotreta Meyrick

Preferred Common Name

  • false codling moth

Other Scientific Names

  • Cryptophlebia leucotreta Meyrick
  • Cryptophlebia roerigii Zacher
  • Olethreutes leucotreta Meyrick
  • Thaumatotibia roerigii Zacher

International Common Names

  • English: citrus codling moth; orange codling moth; orange moth
  • Spanish: palomilla de la naranja
  • French: fausse carpocapse; teigne de l'oranger

EPPO code

  • ARGPLE (Cryptophlebia leucotreta)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page T. leucotreta has long been known as a pest in tropical Africa but it has failed to invade other areas as yet.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Tortricidae
  •                             Genus: Thaumatotibia
  •                                 Species: Thaumatotibia leucotreta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page This species was for a long time known as Cryptophlebia leucotreta Meyrick, but Komai (1999) transferred the species to the genus Thaumatotibia.


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Described in detail by Couilloud (1988), Williams (1953) and Komai (1999).


Flattened, oval, diameter 0.9 mm.


When young yellowish-white with dark spots. The full grown larva is about 15 mm long, bright red or pink, head prothoracic plate and pinacula yellow-brown.


Contained within a tough silken cocoon amongst debris or in the soil.


Strongly dimorphic: Male wingspan 15-16 mm, female 19-20 mm. In both sexes the forewing pattern consists of a mixture of grey, brown, black and orange-brown markings, the most conspicuous being a triangular marking in the outer part of the wing, against the hind margin, and a crescent shaped marking above it. The male is distinguished from all other species by its specialised hindwing, which is slightly reduced and has a circular pocket of fine hair-like black scales overlaid with broad weakly shining whitish scales in the anal angle. It also has a heavily tufted hind tibia.

Timm et al. (2007, 2008) provide morphological and molecular keys to aid in the identification of economically important Tortricidae in South Africa, including T. leucotreta.


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T. leucotreta is occasionally seen in Europe where it has been imported with produce from Africa (Bradley et al., 1979; Karvonen, 1983).

Following the detection of a single adult male in a trap in Ventura County, California, USA, in 2008 (Gilligan et al., 2011), APHIS and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) conducted extensive surveys for T. leucotreta throughout the state. There have been no further detections of the pest in California, and the 2008 detection is considered an isolated regulatory incident. T. leucotreta is listed as a quarantine pest in the USA (NAPPO, 2016).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 15 Jul 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


AngolaPresentEPPO (2020)
BeninPresentEPPO (2020)
Burkina FasoPresentEPPO (2020)
BurundiPresentEPPO (2020)
Cabo VerdePresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
CameroonPresentEPPO (2020)
Central African RepublicPresentEPPO (2020)
ChadPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
Côte d'IvoirePresentEPPO (2020)
EritreaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
EswatiniPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
EthiopiaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
GambiaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
GhanaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
KenyaPresent, WidespreadCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
MadagascarPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
MalawiPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
MaliPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
MauritiusPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
MozambiquePresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
NigerPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
NigeriaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
RéunionPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
RwandaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
Saint HelenaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
SenegalPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
Sierra LeonePresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
SomaliaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
South AfricaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
SudanPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
TanzaniaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
TogoPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
UgandaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
ZambiaPresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
ZimbabwePresentCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)


IsraelPresent, LocalizedWysoki (1986); CABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)


BelgiumAbsent, Intercepted onlyEPPO (2020)
DenmarkAbsent, Intercepted onlyCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
FinlandAbsent, Intercepted onlyCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)
GermanyAbsent, EradicatedEPPO (2020)
ItalyAbsent, Intercepted onlyMazza et al. (2014)
LithuaniaAbsent, Confirmed absent by surveyEPPO (2020)
NetherlandsAbsent, EradicatedCABI and EPPO (2002); IPPC (2014); EPPO (2020)
SloveniaAbsent, Confirmed absent by surveyEPPO (2020)
SpainAbsent, Intercepted onlyEPPO (2020)
SwedenAbsent, Intercepted onlySvensson (2002); EPPO (2020)
United KingdomAbsent, Intercepted onlyCABI and EPPO (2002); EPPO (2020)

North America

United StatesAbsent, Confirmed absent by surveyNAPPO (2016); EPPO (2020)
-CaliforniaAbsent, Confirmed absent by surveyNAPPO (2016); Gilligan et al. (2011); EPPO (2020)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page T. leucotreta is extremely polyphagous, there being in excess of 70 food plants recorded.

Growth Stages

Top of page Fruiting stage


Top of page Symptoms vary according to host. On oranges there is sometimes a scar on the fruit surface, on most other crops, the habit of internal feeding leaves few symptoms.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / internal feeding
Leaves / internal feeding
Seeds / internal feeding

Biology and Ecology

Top of page The female moth lays 100-400 eggs by night, usually singly on the bolls or fruits of the plant. On citrus the young larva mines just beneath the surface, or bores into the pith causing premature ripening of the fruit. On cotton it first mines the boll wall, but later transfers to the seeds.

When full grown the larva descends to the ground on a silken thread and spins a tough silken cocoon in the soil or amongst debris. The development time for each stage varies considerably with temperature, details are given by Daiber (1980) who states that in South Africa five generations per year could be achieved by the moth. There is no diapause.

The adult is nocturnal and is attracted to light. The mating behaviour is highly developed and was investigated by Zagatti and Castel (1987), it relates to three androconial areas on the male.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Apophua leucotretae Parasite Pupae
Chelonus curvimaculatus Parasite Eggs/Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Trichogrammatoidea cryptophlebiae Parasite Eggs South Africa Citrus
Trichogrammatoidea fulva Parasite Eggs Mauritius Litchi chinensis
Trichogrammatoidea lutea Parasite Eggs South Africa

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) larvae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches


Top of page This moth is a serious pest of citrus in Southern Africa and of cotton in many parts of Africa. It also affects maize in West Africa. In South Africa, citrus crop losses of 10-20% are common (Glas, 1991). Reed (1974) described losses of between 42 and 90% in late crops of cotton in Uganda. It has also become a significant pest of macadamia in Israel (Wysoki, 1986). Blomefield (1989) reported losses of up to 28% in a late peach crop in South Africa. Begemann and Schoeman (1999) calculated citrus crop loss in South Africa specifically due to T. leucotreta was 1.6% in Navels and 0.3% in Valencias.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page These will vary according to the crop affected. On oranges look for a brown patch on the skin, usually with evidence of a hole bored in the centre, sometimes with dark brown frass exuding.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page In West Africa, T. leucotreta is often found in conjunction with the pyralid moth Mussidia nigrevenella. Differences between the larvae are given by Silvie (1990) and Moyal and Tran (1989).

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.


Control is difficult because the moth has many alternative hosts so reinfestation is likely to occur.

Cultural Control

Reed (1974) and Byaruhanga and De Lima (1977) showed that late sown crops of cotton in Uganda are worst affected, but the difference is not great. As T. leucotreta is primarily a fruit feeder, it is suggested by Glas (1991) that crops of cotton grown close to fruit trees may be less affected. In areas with a prolonged dry season the moth, which needs a continual source of food, is less likely to reach pest proportions, conversely irrigation allows populations to build up to levels which cause damage.

Biological Control

Parasitoids of T. leucotreta have been identified, and mass release of Trichogrammoidea spp. has been practised with effect (Newton and Odendaal, 1990) but is unlikely to be cost effective.

Fritsch (1988) reported on the successful use of a granulosis virus, which has been further identified by Jehle and Backhaus (1994). The use of pathogens was reviewed by Moore (2002). Jehle et al. (2003) examined the results of combining two genotypes of the virus.

Chemical Control

The larva gains some protection from insecticides by living within a fruit or boll Although insecticides have often been used in the past, they seldom control populations effectively. Chitin inhibitors (Newton, 1987) are more likely to be effective.

Pheromonal Control.

Hofmeyr and Burger (1995) describe a pheromone disperser whilst Newton et al. (1993) identify the compound. Pheromones have been much used for mating disruption of this species and constitute one of the most targeted control methods.


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Begemann GJ, Schoeman AS, 1999. The phenology of Helicoverpa armigera (Hnbner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), Tortrix capensana (Walker) and Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on citrus at Zebediela, South Africa. African Entomology, 7(1):131-148; 33 ref

Blomefield TL, 1989. Economic importance of false codling moth, Cryptophlebia leucotreta, and codling moth, Cydia pomonella, on peaches, nectarines and plums. Phytophylactica, 21(4):435-436

Bradley JD, Tremewan WG, Smith A, 1979. British tortricoid moths. Tortricidae: Olethreutinae. British tortricoid moths. Tortricidae: Olethreutinae. London, UK: The Ray Society, 336

Byaruhanga EK, 1977. Manipulation of sowing dates of cotton for the control of Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Meyrick). In: Lima CPFDe, ed. De Lima, C. P. F. : Advances in medical, veterinary and agricultural entomology in eastern Africa. Proceedings of the 1st E.A. Conference on Entomology and Pest Control, December 6-10, 1976, Nairobi, Kenya. East African Literature Bureau. Nairobi Kenya, 73-75

CABI/EPPO, 2002. Thaumatotibia leucotreta. [Distribution map]. In: Distribution Maps of Plant Pests , (December (1st revision)) Wallingford, UK: CAB International.Map 352.

Carpenter J, Bloem S, Hofmeyr H, 2007. Area-wide control tactics for the false codling moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta in South Africa: a potential invasive species. In: Area-wide control of insect pests: from research to field implementation [ed. by Vreysen MJB, Robinson AS, Hendrichs J] Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer SBM, 351-359

CIE, 1976. Distribution maps of pests, No. 352. Wallingford, UK: CAB International

Couilloud R, 1988. Cryptophlebia (=Argyroploce) leucotreta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae, Olethreutinp). Coton et Fibres Tropicales, 63(4):319-351

Daiber CC, 1980. A study of the biology of the false codling moth Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Meyr.): the adult and generations during the year. Phytophylactica, 12(4):187-193

EPPO, 2014. PQR database. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

EPPO, 2018. EPPO Global Database (available online).

Fritsch E, 1988. Biological control of the false codling moth, Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Meyrick) (Lep., Tortricidae), with a granulosis virus. Mitteilungen der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Allgemeine und Angewandte Entomologie, 6(1-3):280-283

Gilligan TM, Epstein ME, Hoffman KM, 2011. Discovery of false codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick), in California (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington, 113(4):426-435.

Glas M, 1991. Tortricids in miscellaneous crops. In: van der Geest, van Luis, eds. Tortricoid Pests, Their Biology, Natural Enemies and Control. World Crop Pests: 5. UK: Elsevier

Grové, T., de Jager, K., Theledi, M. L., 2019. Fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) and Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) associated with fruit of the family Myrtaceae Juss. in South Africa. Crop Protection, 116, 24-32.

Hofmeyr JH, Burger BV, 1995. Controlled-release pheromone dispenser for use in traps to monitor flight activity of false codling moth. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 21(3):355-363

IPPC, 2014. Finding of one larva and three adults of Thaumatotibia leucotreta in one fruit production greenhouse of Capsicum annuum (bell peppers). IPPC Official Pest Report, No. NLD-26/1. Rome, Italy: FAO.

Jehle JA, Backhaus H, 1994. The granulin gene region of Cryptophlebia leucotreta granulosis virus: sequence analysis and phylogenetic considerations. Journal of General Virology, 75(12):3667-3671

Jehle JA, Fritsch E, Huber J, Backhaus H, 2003. Intra-specific and inter-specific recombination of tortricid-specific granuloviruses during co-infection in insect larvae. Archives of Virology, 148: 1317-1333

Karvonen J, 1983. Cryptophlebia leucotreta imported into Finland (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). Notulp Entomologicp, 63(2):94

Komai F, 1999. A taxonomic review of the genus Grapholita and allied genera (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in the Palaearctic region. Entomologica Scandinavica Supplement No. 55

Malan AP, Knoetze R, Moore SD, 2011. Isolation and identification of entomopathogenic nematodes from citrus orchards in South Africa and their biocontrol potential against false codling moth. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, 108(2):115-125.

Matthews GA, Tunstall JP(Editors), 1994. Insect pests of cotton. Wallingford, UK; CAB International, xii + 593 pp

Mazza G, Strangi A, Marianelli L, Nista Ddel, Roversi PF, 2014. Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Meyrick) (Lepidoptera Tortricidae) intercepted for the first time in Italy. Redia, 97:147-149.

Moore SD, 2002. Entomopathogens & microbial control of citrus pests in South Africa: a review. SA Fruit Journal, 1: 30-32

Moyal P, Tran M, 1989. Morphological study of the pre-imaginal instars of lepidopterous borers of maize in the savannah area of Ivory Coast. Annales de la Societe Entomologique de France, 25(4):461-472

NAPPO, 2016. Phytosanitary Alert System: Corrected Status of 2008 Thaumatotibia leucotreta (False Codling Moth) detection in the United States. NAPPO.

Newton PJ, 1987. Efficacy of chitin synthesis inhibitors and synthetic pyrethroids against Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on citrus in South Africa. Phytophylactica, 19(1):95-97

Newton PJ, Odendaal WJ, 1990. Commercial inundative releases of Trichogrammatoidea cryptophlebip (Hym: Trichogrammatidae) against Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Lep.: Tortricidae) in citrus. Entomophaga, 35(4):545-556

Newton PJ, Thomas CD, Mastro VC, Schwalbe CP, 1993. Improved two-component blend of the synthetic female sex pheromone of Cryptophlebia leucotreta, and identification of an attractant for C. peltastica. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 66(1):75-82

Reed W, 1974. The false codling moth, Cryptophlebia leucotreta Meyr. (Lepidoptera: Olethreutidae) as a pest of cotton in Uganda. Cotton Growing Review, 51(3):213-225

Schulthess F, Bosque-Perez NA, Gounou S, 1991. Sampling lepidopterous pests on maize in West Africa. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 81(3):297-301

Silvie P, 1990. Mussidia nigrivenella Ragonot (Pyralidae, Phycitinp): a little known cotton pest. Coton et Fibres Tropicales, 45(4):323-333

Svensson I, 2002. Remarkable records of Microlepidoptera in Sweden during 2001. Entomologisk Tidskrift, 123(1/2):1-11; 10 ref

Timm AE, Warnich L, Geertsema H, 2007. Morphological and molecular identification of economically important Tortricidae (Lepidoptera) on tropical and subtropical fruit in South Africa. African Entomology, 15(2):269-286.

Timm AE, Warnich L, Geertsema H, 2008. Morphological and molecular identification of economically important Tortricidae (Lepidoptera) on deciduous fruit tree crops in South Africa. African Entomology, 16(2):209-219.

Williams JR, 1953. The larvae and pupae of some important Lepidoptera. Bulletin of Entomological Research, 43:691-701

Wysoki M, 1986. New records of Lepidopterous pests of macadamia in Israel. Phytoparasitica, 14(2):147

Zagatti P, Castel Y, 1987. Courtship behaviour of the false codling moth, Cryptophlebia leucotreta (Meyrick): androconial display and mating success (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). Annales de la Societe Entomologique de France, 23(2):113-123

Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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