Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Epichoristodes acerbella
(South African carnation tortrix)



Epichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Epichoristodes acerbella
  • Preferred Common Name
  • South African carnation tortrix
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Epichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix); adult (museum set specimen)
CaptionEpichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix); adult (museum set specimen)
Copyright©David Agassiz
Epichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix); adult (museum set specimen)
AdultEpichoristodes acerbella (South African carnation tortrix); adult (museum set specimen)©David Agassiz
TitleLarva of E. acerbella showing variation in body colour
CopyrightBiologische Bundesanstalt, Dossenheim, Germany
Larva of E. acerbella showing variation in body colourBiologische Bundesanstalt, Dossenheim, Germany


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Epichoristodes acerbella (Walker)

Preferred Common Name

  • South African carnation tortrix

Other Scientific Names

  • Depressaria acerbella Walker, 1864
  • Epichorista acerbella Walker
  • Epichorista ionephela (Meyr.)
  • Epichoristodes ionephela (Meyrick)
  • Epychoristodes acerbella
  • Proselena ionephela Meyrick, 1909
  • Tortrix iocoma Meyrick, 1908
  • Tubula acerbella Walker

International Common Names

  • English: carnation worm; South African leaf-roller
  • Spanish: minador Sudafricano del clavel
  • French: tordeuse Sud-Africaine de l'oeillet

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: Sydafrikansk nellikevikler
  • Germany: Südafrikanischer Nelkenwickler; Wickler, Suedafrikanischer Nelken-
  • Norway: Afrikansk nellikvikler
  • Sweden: Afrikansk nejlikvecklare

EPPO code

  • EPIOIO (Epichoristodes acerbella)

Taxonomic Tree

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

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page The species was first described as Depressaria acerbella by Walker in 1864 from the Cape, South Africa. It has also been described as Proselena ionephela by Meyrick in 1909 from South Africa and Madagascar and as Tortrix iocoma, also by Meyrick in 1908 from Transvaal. It was placed in Epichoristodes by Diakonoff (1960).


Top of page Eggs

Light green and laid in ooplaques of 1-1.5 cm.


Reaching 1.75 cm in length, body green with a darker line on the dorsal surface and two lateral yellow lines, head dark brown; moves very quickly. Larvae of Cacoecimorpha pronubana (EPPO/CABI, 1996) are distinguished by being uniformly yellowish-green.


14-24 mm wingspan; light-ochre forewings, often with a darker band towards the distal edge; greyish-white hindwings (which distinguishes this species from C. pronubana in which the hindwings are orange-red).
Means of movement/dispersal

Adult flight is responsible only for local dispersal. In international trade, the pest is liable to be carried, in any of its stages, on plants and cut flowers of carnations, chrysanthemums, pelargoniums and roses.


Top of page E. acerbella is indigenous to South Africa and was first found in the EPPO region in the mid-1960s (in glasshouses in Scandinavian countries). Eradicated there, it later appeared in Italy (1971) and other Mediterranean countries. It has been recorded from France, Italy, Croatia and Spain. It has been recorded in Africa from Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It is possible that it has a larger distribution in Eastern Africa (Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and maybe the Southern part of the democratic republic of Congo).

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: 23 Apr 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


KenyaPresentEPPO (2020)
MadagascarPresentEPPO (2020)
South AfricaPresent, Few occurrencesEPPO (2020)
ZimbabweAbsent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)EPPO (2020)


AustriaAbsent, EradicatedBauer (1976); EPPO (2020)
BulgariaPresentGlavendekić (2006)
CroatiaPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2020)
DenmarkPresentEPPO (2020)
FrancePresent, WidespreadEPPO (2020)
GermanyAbsent, Intercepted onlyEPPO (2020)
ItalyPresent, Localized1971Baraldi and Baraldi (1996); EPPO (2020)
NetherlandsAbsent, Intercepted onlyEPPO (2020)
NorwayAbsent, EradicatedEPPO (2020)
RomaniaPresentGlavendekić (2006)
SerbiaPresentGlavendekić (2006); EPPO (2020)
SloveniaPresentGlavendekić (2006); EPPO (2020)
SpainPresent, Few occurrences1976EPPO (2020); CABI (Undated)
United KingdomAbsent, Intercepted onlyEPPO (2020)

Risk of Introduction

Top of page E. acerbella has A2 quarantine pest status for EPPO (OEPP/EPPO, 1980). It is not, however, listed as a quarantine pest by other regional plant protection organizations. In view of its polyphagous nature, E. acerbella does present a certain threat, especially in warmer areas of the EPPO region where it can survive and multiply outdoors. For more information, see Aguilar and Deportes (1974). It may be noted that the distribution of E. acerbella in the EPPO region has remained stable for some time. The pest is possibly more likely to establish in other Mediterranean countries than in the northern European countries which mainly import material of carnations.

Habitat List

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Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page E. acerbella is a polyphagous pest on a range of crops but its principal hosts are carnations and chrysanthemums. It has been recorded from the following plant species: Dianthus caryophyllus, Chrysanthemum x morifoilium, Pelargonium, Prunus, Medicago sativa, Fragaria chiloensis, Fragaria ananassa and Rosa. It also feeds upon Sonchus, Erigeron, Arctotheca and Raphanus raphanistrum.

In addition there are a number of wild host plants including Rumex, Rhamnus and Oxalis.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage


Top of page On carnation cuttings

Young leaves are perforated and wilt and, more typically, stems are mined; flower buds are also perforated, become desiccated and petals are often woven together by silk. Greenish larval excreta may be found in and on affected stem tissues.

On chrysanthemums

The larvae mine only the leaves and do not enter the stem. For more information, see Zangheri and Cavalloro (1971), Nuzzaci (1973), Aguilar and Deportes (1974) and Sola (1974).

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Inflorescence / external feeding
Inflorescence / frass visible
Inflorescence / internal feeding
Inflorescence / webbing
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / frass visible
Leaves / internal feeding
Leaves / leaves rolled or folded
Leaves / webbing
Stems / internal feeding
Stems / visible frass
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / frass visible
Whole plant / internal feeding

Biology and Ecology

Top of page In Italy and France, E. acerbella has four generations in the field between April and October, and five to six generations in the glasshouse; in the latter case, generations are difficult to distinguish since all stages are present for most of the year. The threshold of development is about 6°C, but larvae (the overwintering stage) are able to withstand lower temperatures. Females begin to oviposit about 24 h after mating, and each lays 200-240 eggs on the upper surface of carnation leaves, in batches over a period of 3 days. Males live for about 10 days and females 12 days producing approximately 440 eggs (Anon.,1997) Eggs hatch after 10 days or so, and larvae feed, under a shelter of silk, first on the leaves; they later attack the flower buds and mine the stems. At a constant temperature of 7°C, hatching will not occur, but larvae can survive more than 300 days under these conditions, although they will not show any further development. Larvae (except the first-instar larvae) can survive temperatures as low as 0.5°C for 3-9 days (Quaglia and Davidson, 1983). Pupation takes place after about 30 days and the pupal stage lasts 8 days. At 11 and 17°C, development from egg to adult takes 170 and 70 days, respectively. At 13-25°C (average 20°C), total development lasts 40 days. Temperature also the lifespan of the moth. Experiments in Spain (Gabarra et al., 1986) showed that at a temperature of 15°C lifespan was longest at 28.5 days while at 30°C it was shortest at 11.5 days. For additional information, see Zangheri and Cavalloro (1971), Nuzzaci (1973) and Sola (1974).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Actia pilipennis Parasite
Atheta coriaria Predator
Nemorilla maculosa Parasite
Trichogramma dendrolimi Parasite

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 adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Leaves adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches adults; eggs; larvae; nymphs; pupae Yes Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye

Detection and Inspection

Top of page The leaves and stems should be inspected for perforation and mining (stems) Flowers become desiccated and petals are often woven together by silk. Larval droppings are greenish.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page Tortricids of this group may be easily confused, to confirm identification, a genitalia slide of the adult moths should be made.

This species can easily be confused with Cacoecimorpha pronubana which has orange-red hindwings compared with the greyish-white hindwings of E. acerbella.
Larvae of C. pronubana (EPPO/CABI, 1996) are distinguished by being uniformly yellowish-green compared with the green larva of E. acerbella.

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.

Chemical Control

Control of E. acerbella has been reported as possible by using pyrethroids, such as cypermethrin or fenvalerate (Bene, 1983).

Biological Control

Methods or antagonistic organisms suitable for biological control have not yet been investigated.


E. acerbella can be monitored by pheromone traps, but experiments on control by mating disruption or disorientation caused by pheromones showed no consistent results (Bene and Rumine, 1984; Capizzi et al., 1987).


Experimental research on the use of direct ionizing radiation to control insect pests on cut flowers has given very promising results in Italy (Baraldi, 1996).

Phytosanitary Measures

In countries where E. acerbella occurs, nursery inspections should be carried out during the growing season prior to dispatch. The consignment should come from a place of production that has been found free from E. acerbella during the last growing season (OEPP/EPPO, 1990). Cuttings should be examined for perforations in the leaves and, in particular, for signs of mining in the stem tips. Flowers and flower buds should be inspected for silken webs, and packaging material for larval excrement.


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===, 1980. Data sheets on quarantine organisms. Set 3. EPPO Bulletin, 10(1). unnumbered.

Anon, 1997. Old pest with new status. Deciduous Fruit Grower, 47(7):256-257; 2 ref.

Baraldi D, 1996. Irraggiamento di prodotti floricoli da esportazione. Informatore Fitopatologico, 46 (5):20-24.

Baraldi D; Baraldi G, 1996. Ornamental frond and foliage plants: agronomic, commercial and phytosanitary aspects. Informatore Fitopatologico, 46(12):17-19.

Bauer W, 1976. Control of plant movements in 1975. Pflanzenarzt, 29(3):29-32

Bene G del; Rumine P, 1984. Use of the sex pheromone in the control of Epichoristodes acerbella (Walker) on carnation. Redia, 67:355-365

Bene Gdel, 1983. Effectiveness of synthetic pyrethroids against Epichoristodes acerbella (Walker). Redia, 66:425-434

CABI/EPPO, 1998. Distribution maps of quarantine pests for Europe (edited by Smith IM, Charles LMF). Wallingford, UK: CAB International, xviii + 768 pp.

Capizzi A; Tonini C; Spinelli P, 1987. Male disorientation trials with a particular formulation. Bulletin SROP, 10(3):68-70

Costa Seglar M; Vives de Quadras JM, 1976. Epichoristodes acerbella Walk., a new tortricid, pest of carnations, in the Iberian Peninsula. SHILAP, 4(15):233-234

D'Aguilar J; Deportes L, 1974. Epichoristodes acerbella Walker in France (Lep. Tortricidae). Bulletin de la Societe Entomologique de France, 79(1/2):6-9

Diakonoff A, 1960. Tortricidae from Madagascar Part 1, Tortricinae and Chlidanotinae. Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Afd. Natuurkunde (Tweede Reeks) 53(2):1-209.

EPPO, 1990. Specific quarantine requirements. EPPO Technical Documents, No. 1008. Paris, France: European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization.

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

Gabarra R; Buisan A; Avilla J; Albajes R, 1986. Longevity, fecundity and egg hatching of Epichoristodes acerbella under constant temperatures (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Entomologia Generalis, 12(1):45-50

Glavendekic M, 2006. Epichoristodes acerbella (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae): a new species in the fauna of Serbia. Acta Entomologica Serbica, 11(1/2):77-81.

Nuzzaci G, 1973. Epichoristodes acerbella Walk. (Lepidoptera - Tortricidae). Entomologica, 9:147-178

Quaglia F, 1983. Influence of constant temperature on the pre-imaginal development of Epichoristodes acerbella (Walker) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Frustula Entomologica, 6:255-280

Smith IM; McNamara DG; Scott PR; Holderness M, 1997. Quarantine pests for Europe. Second Edition. Data sheets on quarantine pests for the European Union and for the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization. Quarantine pests for Europe. Second Edition. Data sheets on quarantine pests for the European Union and for the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization., Ed. 2:vii + 1425 pp.; many ref.

Sola E, 1974. The South African Tortricid, a new enemy for the carnation growers of the Cote d'Azur. Phytoma, 26(261):21-23

Vives JM, 1980. An important pest of Spanish carnations, the South African carnation miner, Epichoristodes acerbella Walk. Agricultura, Spain, 49(580):688-691

Zangheri S; Cavalloro R, 1971. On the presence in Italy of Epichoristodes (Tubula) acerbella (Walker) (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). Bollettino della Societa Entomologica Italiana, 103(9):186-190

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.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Distribution Maps

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