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
  • 16 November 2021
  • 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: 10 Feb 2022
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 StatesPresentIntroduced1882
-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 europaeaOleaceaeUnknown
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

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.

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.

Seebens H, Blackburn T M, Dyer E E, Genovesi P, Hulme P E, Jeschke J M, Pagad S, Pyšek P, Winter M, Arianoutsou M, Bacher S, Blasius B, Brundu G, Capinha C, Celesti-Grapow L, Dawson W, Dullinger S, Fuentes N, Jäger H, Kartesz J, Kenis M, Kreft H, Kühn I, Lenzner B, Liebhold A, Mosena A (et al), 2017. No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications. 8 (2), 14435.

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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