Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Zeuzera pyrina
(wood leopard moth)



Zeuzera pyrina (wood leopard moth)


  • Last modified
  • 10 July 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Zeuzera pyrina
  • Preferred Common Name
  • wood leopard moth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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Zeuzera pyrina (leopard moth or wood leopard moth); adult female, wings flapping. Larvik, Norway. July, 2011.
TitleAdult female
CaptionZeuzera pyrina (leopard moth or wood leopard moth); adult female, wings flapping. Larvik, Norway. July, 2011.
Copyright©Arnstein Rønning - CC BY 3.0
Zeuzera pyrina (leopard moth or wood leopard moth); adult female, wings flapping. Larvik, Norway. July, 2011.
Adult femaleZeuzera pyrina (leopard moth or wood leopard moth); adult female, wings flapping. Larvik, Norway. July, 2011.©Arnstein Rønning - CC BY 3.0


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Zeuzera pyrina (L.) 1761

Preferred Common Name

  • wood leopard moth

Other Scientific Names

  • Cossus aesculi
  • Zeuzera aesculi (L.)
  • Zeuzera leuconotum

International Common Names

  • English: leopard moth; moth, leopard; wood leopard moth
  • Spanish: taladro amarillo de los troncos; taladro de los frutales
  • French: coquette; zeuzere; zeuzère; zeuzere du poirier

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: traeborer, plettet
  • Germany: Blausieb; Bohrer, Apfel-; Bohrer, Rosskastanien-
  • Israel: sas hanamer
  • Italy: perdilegno bianco; perdilegno giallo; rodilegno giallo; tarlo degli alberi di frutto; Zeuzera bianco
  • Netherlands: Houtrups, gele; Houtvlinder, gestippelde
  • Norway: greindreper
  • Sweden: traefjaeril, blaflaeckig
  • Turkey: sari agac kurdu

EPPO code

  • ZEUZPY (Zeuzera pyrina)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Cossidae
  •                             Genus: Zeuzera
  •                                 Species: Zeuzera pyrina


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Light yellow to bright salmon pink, approximately 1 mm long.


Larvae are 50 to 60 mm long, bright yellow with numerous small black points on each segment. The head and the thoracic plates are shiny black.


Thorax is white or grey, hairy with six blueish-black spots; abdomen is relatively long. The wings are white, and are sprinkled with small metallic-blue spots; female wingspan 50-60 mm, male wingspan 35-40 mm.

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: 17 Feb 2021
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes




North KoreaPresent


Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresent
Union of Soviet Socialist RepublicsPresent
United KingdomPresent, Localized

North America

United StatesPresent
-South DakotaPresent

Hosts/Species Affected

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Wood-boring caterpillars of Z. pyrina can affect trees and shrubs, most notably apple and ornamental Malus species. Other hosts include pears, plums, blackcurrant, ash, birch, cherry, cotoneaster, hawthorn, lilac, maple, oak, pear, rhododendron, Sorbus, willows, pomegranate and quince (Gatwick, 1992).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
Acer (maples)AceraceaeOther
    Acer japonicum (full-moon maple)AceraceaeMain
      Aesculus (buckeye)HippocastanaceaeOther
        Albizia julibrissin (silk tree)FabaceaeMain
            Castanea (chestnuts)FagaceaeMain
                  Cydonia (quince)RosaceaeOther
                    Diospyros virginiana (persimmon (common))EbenaceaeOther
                      Eriobotrya japonica (loquat)RosaceaeOther
                        Fagus (beeches)FagaceaeOther
                          Ficus carica (common fig)MoraceaeOther
                            Fraxinus (ashes)OleaceaeMain
                              fruit treesMain
                                Ilex (Holly)AquifoliaceaeOther
                                  Juglans (walnuts)JuglandaceaeOther
                                    Juglans regia (walnut)JuglandaceaeMain
                                      Lonicera (honeysuckles)CaprifoliaceaeOther
                                        Malus (ornamental) (ornamental apple)RosaceaeMain
                                          Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeMain
                                            Olea europaea subsp. europaea (European olive)OleaceaeOther
                                              Philadelphus coronarius (mock orange)HydrangeaceaeOther
                                                Platanus (planes)PlatanaceaeOther
                                                  Populus (poplars)SalicaceaeMain
                                                    Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)RosaceaeOther
                                                      Punica granatum (pomegranate)PunicaceaeOther
                                                        Pyrus communis (European pear)RosaceaeMain
                                                          Rhododendron (Azalea)EricaceaeMain
                                                            Ribes (currants)GrossulariaceaeOther
                                                              Rubus (blackberry, raspberry)RosaceaeOther
                                                                Salix (willows)SalicaceaeOther
                                                                  Tamarix (tamarisk)TamaricaceaeOther
                                                                    Tilia (limes)TiliaceaeMain
                                                                      Ulmus (elms)UlmaceaeMain

                                                                        Growth Stages

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                                                                        Vegetative growing stage


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                                                                        Dead shoot tips appear and leaves on the apical portions of branches discolour prematurely. Infested branches break upon bending, due to the galleries made by caterpillars. Young caterpillars first enter shoots near the tip, and move onto older wood further down the branch when the shoot dies. Entry holes can be recognized by the frass, which resembles pellets of sawdust, and accumulates outside the entry hole for 6-9 months. Sufficient frass may fall on the ground to be a conspicuous symptom of infestation (Gatwick, 1992).

                                                                        List of Symptoms/Signs

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                                                                        SignLife StagesType
                                                                        Stems / internal feeding
                                                                        Stems / visible frass

                                                                        Biology and Ecology

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                                                                        Adults do not feed and have short lifespans of 8-10 days. In the UK, they are on the wing from mid-June to early August. Females mate soon after emergence and under optimum conditions can lay several hundred eggs, usually deposited in clusters on trees, in cracks or crevices. Gatwick (1992) indicates that in the UK, only one egg is usually laid per tree, minimizing competition between caterpillars.

                                                                        Embryonic development lasts for 7-23 days. Young caterpillars at first remain clustered in a silken cocoon from which they eventually disperse at dawn or at dusk. They then bore into the tips of branches and shoots, or into young shoots near an axillary bud, and then move downwards to attack younger parts of the tree. Feeding and tunnelling in older wood continue for 2-3 years. When fully grown, usually in late spring, caterpillars are about 50 mm long. After several migrations, the larvae attack the larger branches and the trunk, in which they form ascending galleries under the bark, then in the wood. Larval entry holes are marked by sap outflows, sawdust and frass (in the shape of small cylinders).

                                                                        In France, the life cycle lasts 2 years, adults appearing from the beginning of June to August and pupation occurring from April to July. Young caterpillars attached to silk threads can be carried by the wind; this mode of dispersal is often predominant in young orchards and on trees situated close to hedges and thickets. In spring, larvae continue boring galleries only in the wood, often in the centre of the branch.

                                                                        Natural enemies

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                                                                        Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
                                                                        Bacillus thuringiensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
                                                                        Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
                                                                        Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
                                                                        Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
                                                                        Cheiracanthium mildei Predator
                                                                        Copidosoma truncatellum Parasite Eggs
                                                                        Diadegma terebrans Parasite
                                                                        Dolichogenidea laevigata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae Israel; Syria apples; Ulmus
                                                                        Dolichogenidea phaloniae Parasite Arthropods|Larvae Israel Ulmus
                                                                        Dolichomitus messor Parasite
                                                                        Hirsutella thompsonii Pathogen
                                                                        Megaselia praecusta Parasite
                                                                        Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
                                                                        Nemorilla maculosa Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
                                                                        Neoxorides nitens Parasite
                                                                        Pristomerus vulnerator Parasite
                                                                        Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite
                                                                        Steinernema feltiae Parasite


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                                                                        Z. pyrina is one of the most important pests of apple and pear orchards in Mediterranean regions. It can also be a serious pest of olive. On young trees, one caterpillar is enough to kill a tree, whereas 3-year-old trees can become extremely vulnerable to wind damage due to damage of the central axis. Older trees can be severely damaged, particularly in dry years and on dry ground. In the UK, damage caused by Z. pyrina tends to be more severe following hot, dry summers (Gatwick, 1992). Trees weakened by leopard moth attacks are more susceptible to damage from other xylophagous pests, such as the goat moth (Cossus cossus), hornet clearwing moth (Synanthedon myopaeformis) and bark beetles. The woolly aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum) can use old larval galleries of Z. pyrina as a refuge, enabling them to evade chemical treatments.


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                                                                        Carter DJ, 1984. Pest Lepidoptera of Europe with special reference to the British Isles. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Dr. W. Junk

                                                                        CDA, 1988. Plant Protection - Entomology. Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture for the year 1987. Nicosia, Cyprus: Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 37-40

                                                                        CIE, 1973. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, No. 24. Wallingford, UK: CAB International

                                                                        Clausen CP, 1931. Insects injurious to agriculture in Japan. Circular - United States Department of Agriculture, 168:1-115

                                                                        Evans JW, 1952. The Injurious Insects of the British Commonwealth. Wallingford, UK: CAB International

                                                                        Gratwick, 1992. Crop pests in the UK. Collected edition of MAFF leaflets. London, UK: Chapman & Hall, 126-127

                                                                        Talhouk AS, 1950a. A list of insects observed on economically important plants and plant products in Lebanon. Bull. Review of Applied Entomology (A), 40:136

                                                                        Talhouk AS, 1950b. A list of insects observed on plants of economic importance in Syria. Bull. Soc. Fouad. Ier. Ent., 38:305-309

                                                                        Therios I, 2008. Pests and diseases. In: Olives [ed. by Therios, I.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI, 335-352.

                                                                        Distribution References

                                                                        CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

                                                                        CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

                                                                        CDA, 1988. Plant Protection - Entomology. In: Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture for the year 1987, Nicosia, Cyprus: Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources. 37-40.

                                                                        Clausen C P, 1931. Insects injurious to Agriculture in Japan. In: Circular. United States Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 115 pp.

                                                                        Gratwick, 1992. Crop pests in the UK. Collected edition of MAFF leaflets., London, UK: Chapman & Hall. 126-127.

                                                                        Nigro F, Boscia D, Antelmi I, Ippolito A, 2013. Fungal species associated with a severe decline of olive in southern Italy. Journal of Plant Pathology. 95 (3), 668.

                                                                        UK, CAB International, 1952. Saissetia oleae. [Distribution map]. In: Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, Wallingford, UK: CAB International. Map 24. DOI:10.1079/DMPP/20056600024

                                                                        Distribution Maps

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