NC State Extension Publications

Background and Description

Redbanded leafroller (Argyrotaenia velutinana; RBLR), a tortricid moth, has been reported on apple since at least the 1870s and became a significant economic pest in mid-Atlantic states in the 1940s. In North Carolina it is usually only a sporadic pest, with individuals appearing in pheromone traps but not developing into damaging populations. Larva are capable of feeding on a wide variety of plants, including deciduous fruits, forest trees, and some herbaceous plants.

Adults are tan, 1/2-inch (12.5mm) long moths with a V-shaped red-brown band running across the forewing. Pupae are greenish brown when first formed but turn a deeper brown as they age. Larvae are about 3/4-inch (19mm) long when fully developed and vary from yellow-green to grass-green. Eggs are laid in masses about 1/16 x 3/16 inch (3 x 5mm), with about 45 eggs per mass.

RBLR adult

RBLR adult.

J. F. Walgenbach file

RBLR adult

RBLR adult.

George Rock, NCSU

RBLR larva

RBLR larva.

J. F. Walgenbach file

RBLR egg mass on apple leaf

RBLR egg mass on apple leaf.

J. F. Walgenbach file

RBLR egg mass

RBLR egg mass.

Kenneth Sorensen, NCSU

Life history

In North Carolina, the spring moth flight is followed by two full generations and a partial third. Pupae spend the winter on the ground in dead leaves or other debris. Adults emerge around the time of green tip stage, and the first flight peaks just before bloom. Around pink stage, first generation eggs are being laid on tree trunks and limbs. By late bloom or petal fall, eggs hatch and larva crawl up the limbs looking for food. Usually, first generation feeding occurs on tender growth on water sprouts in the center of the tree. The eggs of later generations are laid primarily on leaves. These larvae feed on foliage and will roll leaves together to form shelters by the time they reach maturity. Some will feed on fruit with a leaf attached by webbing for protection, and some feed where two fruit touch each other.

RBLR leaf shelter

RBLR leaf shelter.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Leaf attached to apple during RBLR feeding

Leaf attached to apple during RBLR feeding.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Damage

Larvae can skeletonize leaves by feeding on the underside near the midrib, folding and webbing the leaf together. Second and (more often) third generation larvae may feed on the fruit itself, often using a web or leaf to protect the feeding site. Leafroller feeding is characterized by canal-like channels in the fruit surface rather than the interior tunnel-feeding characteristic of codling moth and oriental fruit moth. Larvae may also feed inside the calyx and stem ends of fruit. Sometimes early generation larva will cause scarring on young fruit, but most damage occurs later in the year.

Leafroller damage

Leafroller damage.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Leafroller damage

Leafroller damage.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Apple with leafroller damage and leaf shelter

Apple with leafroller damage and leaf shelter.

J. F. Walgenbach file

Leafroller damage

Leafroller damage.

R. R. Kriner, Rutgers

Monitoring and Control

Hang pheromone traps in mid-March to begin monitoring adult activity. Sprays that are applied shortly after the peak emergence are the most effective means of control, often killing not only moths but also eggs and larvae. Sprays during the late June or early July moth flight are also usually effective. Biological control is important for keeping RBLR populations at low levels.

Wing trap at bloom

Wing trap at bloom.

Steve Schoof, NCSU

Author

Extension Entomology Specialist (Fruits/Vegetables)
Entomology

Publication date: Feb. 23, 2015

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation.