Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Gypsonoma aceriana
(poplar twig borer)



Gypsonoma aceriana (poplar twig borer)


  • Last modified
  • 23 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Gypsonoma aceriana
  • Preferred Common Name
  • poplar twig borer
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • G. aceriana is widespread in poplar nurseries and plantations in many regions of Europe. In 1998 and 1999, non-target captures of single specimens of G. aceriana were made in western Washington State, USA (...
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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Gypsonoma aceriana (Duponchel, 1843)

Preferred Common Name

  • poplar twig borer

Other Scientific Names

  • Epinotia aceriana Duponchel
  • Penthina aceriana Duponchel
  • Semasia aceriana Duponchel

International Common Names

  • Spanish: oruga minadora de los shopos
  • French: la semasie; tordeuse du peuplier
  • Russian: pobegovaja topolevaja listovjortka

Local Common Names

  • Bulgaria: topolov papkojad
  • Denmark: poppelbarkvikler; poppelskudvikler
  • Germany: Pappelnwickler
  • Italy: gemmaiola
  • Netherlands: populierescheutboorder
  • Norway: poppelbarkvikler
  • Serbia: topolin savijac
  • Sweden: poppelbarkvecklare
  • USA: European poplar shoot borer

EPPO code

  • GYPSAC (Gypsonoma aceriana)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page G. aceriana is widespread in poplar nurseries and plantations in many regions of Europe. In 1998 and 1999, non-target captures of single specimens of G. aceriana were made in western Washington State, USA (Miller and LaGasa, 2001). It is possible that G. aceriana could become a significant poplar pest in North America. Field observations and biological studies have been conducted in order to delimitate its distribution and impact on poplars in a new site (LaGasa et al., 2001).

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Tortricidae
  •                             Genus: Gypsonoma
  •                                 Species: Gypsonoma aceriana

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page G. aceriana is a representative of the subfamily Olethreutinae, of the family Tortricidae (Lepidoptera).


Top of page Adults

The adults of G. aceriana are ash-grey, with a body length of 4-5 mm and a wingspan of 9-14 mm (Georgiev, 1992). The wings are folded over the body when at rest. The basal part of the forewings is darker than the apical remainder. The hind wings are uniformly light grey or light brown.


The eggs are oval, slightly flattened and about 0.5-0.6 mm long (Georgiev, 1992). At the start of the embryonic stage they are colourless and become darker as the embryo develops.


The larvae are pale with brownish or blackish heads and have a prothoracic plate. Neonate larvae are 1.2-1.5 mm long and mature larvae are 7.9-11.1 mm long (Georgiev, 1992).


The pupae are 5.7-6.7 mm long and 2-3 mm wide. They are light brown, smooth and shiny, and covered with white, loose cocoons.


Top of page G. aceriana occurs in western Europe, Northern Africa and Asia Minor (Danilevskii, 1955). The species is most abundant in western, central and southern Europe (Kuznetzov, 1978). Single specimens of G. aceriana have been found in North America (Miller and LaGasa, 2001). Gypsonoma haimbachiana also occurs on poplars in North America (Morris, 1967).

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


IraqPresentRazowski, 1996
TurkeyPresentRazowski, 1996

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-WashingtonPresentNativeMiller and LaGasa, 2001


AlbaniaPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
AustriaPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
BelarusPresentNativeKuznetzov, 1978
BelgiumWidespreadNativeHeymans et al., 1985; Nef, 1992; Razowski, 1996
BulgariaWidespreadNativeGeorgiev, 1992; Razowski, 1996
CroatiaPresentNativeHrasovec and Harapin, 1999
Czech RepublicPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
Czechoslovakia (former)PresentNativeRazowski, 1996
DenmarkPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
FranceWidespreadNativeAttard, 1979; Razowski, 1996
GermanyWidespreadNativeBassus et al., 1975; Razowski, 1996
GreeceWidespreadNativeKailidis, 1970; Razowski, 1996
HungaryPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
IrelandPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
ItalyWidespreadNativeRazowski, 1996
LuxembourgPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
MacedoniaWidespreadNativeKusevska, 1972; Razowski, 1996
NetherlandsWidespreadNativeBooij and Voerman, 1984; Razowski, 1996
NorwayPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
PolandPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
PortugalPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
Russian FederationPresentNativeDanilevskii, 1955; Kuznetzov, 1978
-Central RussiaPresentKuznetzov, 1978
-Southern RussiaPresentKuznetzov, 1978
-Western SiberiaPresentKuznetzov, 1978
SerbiaPresentNativeJodal, 1986; Razowski, 1996
SlovakiaPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
SpainPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
SwedenPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
SwitzerlandPresentNativeRazowski, 1996
UKPresentNativeRazowski, 1996; Anon, 2001
UkrainePresentNativeKostjuk, 1974
Yugoslavia (former)PresentNativeRazowski, 1996


Top of page G. aceriana is one of the main phytophagous insects on poplars in nurseries and young plantations (Attard, 1977, 1979; Georgiev, 1992). It is also a common pest on young poplar ornamentals in settlements (Georgiev and Velcheva, 1999).

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page G. aceriana develops on all poplar species (Populus spp.) (Abgrall and Soutrenon, 1991). It mainly feeds on hybrids, preferring Populus trichocarpa [Populus balsamifera subsp. trichocarpa] x Populus deltoides clones (Nef, 1985). The representatives of the section Tacamahaca (clones of P. balsamifera subsp. trichocarpa) are also very susceptible to pest attacks, while within the section Aigeiros (clones of Populus nigra, P. deltoides and Populus x euramericana) some hybrids are fairly susceptible but P. deltoides and its hybrids are usually slightly attacked (Estoup, 1975; Schvester, 1977).

According to Danilevskii (1955), G. aceriana is also trophically connected to Acer campestre.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Growth Stages

Top of page Vegetative growing stage


Top of page Common symptoms, which indicate that poplars are infested by G. aceriana are: expelled silk and frass over the larval entrance holes, near midribs or large veins of the leaves; conical or tube silk and frass formations over larval entrance holes on the twigs; gall-like swellings on stunted tender twigs; healed wounds; and forks, bushes, crooks and other malformations of the stem and branches of poplar seedlings and trees.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Growing point / distortion
Growing point / dwarfing; stunting
Growing point / frass visible
Growing point / internal feeding; boring
Leaves / frass visible
Leaves / internal feeding
Stems / stunting or rosetting
Stems / witches broom

Biology and Ecology

Top of page G. aceriana normally has one or two generations per year (Abgrall and Soutrenon, 1991). In southeastern Europe the species is usually bivoltine but in some years it is able to develop a third generation (Kusevska, 1972; Georgiev, 1992). The number of generations is limited by a facultative summer diapause under certain temperature and air humidity conditions (Kusevska, 1973).

G. aceriana lays eggs on the lower leaf surface, along the mid-ribs or large veins. The eggs are placed individually in small groups, and there are two to three eggs per leaf. The embryonic stage lasts approximately 7-10 days (Kusevska, 1972; Georgiev, 1992). The newly hatched larvae eat into the parenchyma and leaf ribs or veins, covering themselves with frass and silk threads. After the first moult, the larvae change feeding places and penetrate into tender twig tips. They make tubular silk and frass shelters over the entrance holes. Frequently the damaged twigs form gall-like swellings at the points of infection. The larvae moult three more times in the twigs and larval development is completed in approximately 30 days (Kusevska, 1972). The mature larvae leave the twigs and pupate in litter on the ground or rarely in bark crevices, in white silk cocoons to which sand grains or bark particles are attached. Prepupal and pupal development last 2-3 and 7-14 days, respectively (Kusevska, 1972).

Adult emergence from overwintering generations usually occurs in May, and in August from the summer generation (Georgiev, 1992). The adults are active at night. During the day, they hide in bark crevices or stay immobile on leaves and branches, and are difficult to find. According to Kusevska (1972), the average female lifetime fecundity is 62-78 eggs.

G. aceriana overwinter as second- or third-instar larvae in well-camouflaged hibernacula, which are shelters (bark crevices, depressions in leaf scars, etc.) on stems and branches covered with silk and frass. The larvae of G. aceriana can migrate more than 1 m from their feeding site to find a suitable overwintering place (Heymans et al., 1984). In the early spring, the larvae leave their overwintering shelters and climb higher up the trees to bore into the young twigs.

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Adalia bipunctata Predator
Apanteles erevanicus Parasite Larvae
Bracon variator Parasite Larvae
Dolichogenidea erivanica Parasite Larvae
Phytomyptera nigrina Parasite Larvae
Pristomerus rufiabdominalis Parasite Larvae
Pristomerus vulnerator Parasite Larvae

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Some predators and parasitoids are known to be natural limiting factors of G. aceriana. Adalia bipunctata, which normally feeds on aphids, has been observed to prey on a mature larva of G. aceriana (Attard, 1977).

Trichogramma evanescens is reported as an egg parasitoid of G. aceriana (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975).

Thirteen species are known to be larval parasitoids of G. aceriana: Pristomerus vulnerator (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975; Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999; Georgiev, 2001); Parania geniculata [Atrometus geniculatus] (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975); Pristomerus rufiabdominalis (Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999; Georgiev, 2001); Trichomma enecator (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975); Itoplectis alternans (Kusevska, 1974-1975); Bracon variator (Arru and Lapietra, 1971; Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999); Apanteles erevanicus [Dolichogenidea erevanica] (Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Delkov, 1999; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999); Apanteles vitripennis; Apanteles melanoscelus [Cotesia melanoscelus] (Kusevska, 1974-1975); Bassus tumidulus (Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999; Georgiev and Delkov, 2003); Orgilus nitidus (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975); Orgilus obscurator [Orgilus leptocephalus] (Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999); and Eupelmus annulatus (Kusevska, 1972, 1974-1975).

Parasitoids play an important role in limiting pest numbers. In Macedonia, Former Yugoslav Republic, host larvae parasitism can reach 16-29% (Kusevska, 1974-1975), and in Bulgaria, 23-62% (Georgiev, 1995; Georgiev and Samuelian, 1999; Georgiev and Delkov, 2003). The main biological characteristics of the most important parasitoids of G. aceriana are studied in Bulgaria.

B. variator is a solitary external parasitoid of G. aceriana. A. erevanicus, B. tumidulus, P. rufiabdominalis and P. vulnerator are solitary internal parasitoids (Georgiev, 1995, 2001; Georgiev and Delkov, 1999, 2003). They are bivoltine, attack the early-stage (first to second instar) host larvae and overwinter as larvae.

The life cycle of A. erevanicus is in relatively good synchrony with development of the poplar twig borer (Georgiev and Delkov, 1999). Adult emergence of the parasitoid usually occurs between late May and early June, and in August for the overwintering and summer generations, respectively. At this time, G. aceriana larvae are in the first- or second-instar stage. The activity of A. erevanicus coincides with the peak abundance of preferred host larval instars and parasitism sometimes reaches up to 46-56% (Georgiev and Delkov, 1999).

Adult emergence of both the overwintering and summer generations of B. tumidulus coincides with the adult emergence of the host (Georgiev and Delkov, 2003). The first generation emergence of the parasitoid is usually in relatively good synchrony with the first larval population of G. aceriana. However, the second parasitoid generation is not very well synchronized with the life cycle of the host. The average mortality of G. aceriana caused by this parasitoid in Bulgaria, reaches 16% and 23% in some years for the overwintering and the summer generations, respectively. The highest level of parasitism by B. tumidulus observed in an individual study was 62% (Georgiev and Delkov, 2003).

The flight period of the overwintering generations of P. vulnerator and P. rufiabdominalis is between late May and early June, and in August for the summer ones (Georgiev, 2001). P. rufiabdominalis usually appears 5-10 days before P. vulnerator. Adult emergence of the parasitoids coincides with adult emergence of G. aceriana but the life cycles of the parasitoids do not synchronize well with the host development. P. vulnerator and P. rufiabdominalis kill 6-10% and 3-16% of G. aceriana larvae, respectively.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page Natural Dispersal

The adults of G. aceriana can fly but nothing is known about the flight distances by the females from infested poplar stands to newly planted poplars.

Silvicultural Practices

Long-distance spread of G. aceriana is most likely to occur through silvicultural practices or commercial movement of infested poplar seedlings for planting (the pest overwinters as a larva on the stems of 1-year-old poplar seedlings).

Movement in Trade

Poplar wood is not considered to be a likely pathway for spread to new areas.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Bark pupae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Leaves eggs; larvae Yes Pest or symptoms not visible to the naked eye but usually visible under light microscope
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches larvae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Fruits (inc. pods)
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark


Top of page G. aceriana damages leaves, buds and tender twigs, causing serious physiological weakness and technical malformations of the host plants. The leaf deformations lead to a decrease in growth. The terminal bud and twig deformations cause forking and other malformations of the stem and branches of poplar trees. Damaged twigs are always less developed than undamaged ones because of the temporary or permanent cessation of growth in the infested shoots (Heymans et al., 1983). According to Hadzi-Georgiev (1974), attacks by G. aceriana reduce tree diameter and volume increment by up to 10-12 years.

In central and southern Europe, the pest is able to harm strong poplar plantations (e.g. Attard, 1979; Booij and Voerman, 1984; Heymans et al., 1985; Jodal, 1986; Georgiev, 1992). The most severe damage is caused in nurseries where the pest may attack up to 80% of poplar seedlings thus making them useless for propagation (Georgiev, 1992).

Environmental Impact

Top of page G. aceriana is a notable pest of ornamental poplar trees in urban systems. In Sofia, Bulgaria, 23-94% infestation levels of growing tips of park and street poplar trees have been observed, which results in significant aesthetic damage to young ornamentals (Georgiev and Velcheva, 1999).


Top of page The presence of G. aceriana can be monitored by the use of synthetic sex pheromones. Delta traps baited with a mixture of (E)-10-dodecenyl acetate and (E)-10-dodecen-1-ol at a ratio of 7:3 can be successfully used to monitor the flight activity of the pest (Booij and Voerman, 1984).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Poplar leaves and growing terminal shoots must be carefully examined for expelled frass and silk threads over the entrances of the larval holes. Damaged, tender twigs may be detected by their stunted and distorted growth, and the presence of gall-like swellings on them. Destruction of the terminal buds and growing tips results in the development of forked and crooked stems of 1-year-old poplar seedlings in nurseries.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page In the adult stage, G. aceriana is very similar to the North American cottonwood twig borer, Gypsonoma haimbachiana, which causes similar damage on the host plants. Inspection of the genital anatomy provides the most reliable means of distinguishing between the two species (LaGasa et al., 2001; Miller and LaGasa, 2001).

The moths of G. aceriana are also similar to Gypsonoma dealbana. The young larvae of G. dealbana will eat into the buds and shoots, and the larvae will eat into the catkins of Populus and Salix spp..

Prevention and Control

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Control of G. aceriana is carried out through phytosanitary measures and insecticidal treatments. In poplar nurseries, some soil cultivation techniques must be applied when the pest is a pupa in the ground, in order to kill it.

Chemical control of G. aceriana could be achieved with calendar sprays of systemic insecticides on poplar leaves, stems and branches, the application of granular systemics to the soil in nurseries in the first year of plantation, and by immersing the poplar cuttings in concentrated systemics before planting.

Chemical control of G. aceriana is usually based on three applications with systemic insecticides at a low concentration, at 15-day intervals in June-July, with a fourth application in late September (Arru and Cellerino, 1974; Arru and Lapietra, 1974). Attard (1979) recommended five to eight treatments with organophosphate insecticides with systemic, ovicidal or contact action against different pest stages to protect poplar seedlings in nurseries. However, it is strongly recommended that only permitted insecticides must be used to control G. aceriana.

Systemic granular insecticides (e.g. dimethoate) applied from mid-May to mid-August are proven to be effective in controlling G. aceriana in 1-year-old poplar nurseries and young plantations (Arru and Lapietra, 1971; Lapietra, 1978). Although these treatments assure very satisfactory control, they are very expensive; on average two to ten times more expensive than traditional applications (Arru and Lapietra, 1974).

Treatments consisting of immersing the poplar cuttings in concentrated systemics (1.5-7.5%) before planting, protect the seedlings for 4 months but they are unsatisfactory because of the high phytotoxicity effect (Arru and Lapietra, 1974; Lapietra, 1974).


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Georgiev G, Delkov A, 1999. Bioecological peculiarities of Dolichogenidea erevanica Tob. (Hymenoptera, Braconidae) - parasitoid of poplar twig borer, Gypsonoma aceriana (Dup.) (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). Folia Oecologica, 25(1-2):173-178.

Georgiev G, Delkov A, 2003. Bioecological characteristics of Bassus tumidulus (Nees) (Hym., Braconidae), a parasitoid of the poplar twig borer, Gypsonoma aceriana (Dup.) (Lep., Tortricidae) in Bulgaria. Journal of Applied Entomology, 127(2):99-102; 17 ref.

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