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Two species of tortrix moth caterpillars are often found in gardens where they bind leaves together with silky threads they can also damage fruits. They can affect a range of plants and in a glasshouse throughout the year.
Tortrix moth caterpillar on Photinia
These small green caterpillars are the larval stage of moths belonging to a family called tortrix moths (Tortricidae). There are almost 400 species of tortrix moth in Britain, only two of these can feed on a wide range of plants and commonly cause problems in gardens and glasshouses; the carnation tortrix moth (Cacoecimorpha pronubana) and light brown apple moth (Epiphyas postvittana).
The caterpillars of carnation tortrix and light brown apple moth bind leaves together with silky threads and feed within this shelter causing damaged areas to dry up and turn brown. Fruit and flowers can also be damaged. In glasshouses damage can occur year round.
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Out of doors light brown apple moth has two overlapping generations during the spring and summer. Eggs are laid in batches on the leaves of host plants and hatch after about ten days. The caterpillars then feed with foliage sown together with silken threads and pupae where they have been feeding. In glasshouses and on houseplants the lifecycle can vary, with adults and caterpillars active from late winter until late autumn.
Carnation tortrix moth has a similar lifecycle to light brown apple moth but can breed continuously in glasshouses and on houseplants.
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