Biological control of Oriental fruit moth

Importance of Oriental fruit moth

The Oriental fruit moths also called as peach moths that are one of the serious insect pests of many stone and pome fruit crops including apples, apricots, cherry, flowering cherry, nectarines, peaches, pear and plum.

Facts (show all)

+ Taxonomy and list of the most economically devastating species of Oriental fruit moth
  • Common name: Oriental Fruit Moth or Peach Moth
  • Scientific name: Grapholita molesta
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Genus: Grapholita
  • Species: Grapholita molesta
+ Identification of Oriental fruit moth

Moths: Peach moths/ Oriental fruit moths are gray in color with brown markings and wingspan of 13 mm.

Eggs: Eggs of peach moth/ oriental fruit moths are round to oval in shape and translucent white in color.

Larvae: Young larval instars (stages) and mature larvae of peach moth/oriental fruit moth are creamy white and pinkish to red in color, respectively. Both the young and mature larval stages have brown head capsule. The Mature larvae are about 13-14 mm long with three pairs of true legs and four pairs of pro-legs. A characteristic anal comb with five teeth is also present on the last abdominal segment of the mature larvae.

Pupae: The pupae of peach moth/oriental fruit moth are yellowish brown to blackish in color.

+ Biology of Oriental fruit moth

The life cycle of peach moth/oriental fruit moth consists of four developmental stages including eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. Females of oriental moth generally lay eggs on the succulent twigs and/or underside of the leaves near growing points. These eggs hatch within a week into young larvae that develop through four to five instars and become mature. Peach moth/oriental fruit moths generally overwinter as mature larvae in cocoons built by them in the soil or in the crevices of tree bark. Early in the spring, these overwintering larvae generally pupate in the same cocoons. The first generation adult moths generally emerge within 1-2 weeks after pupation and life cycle continues.

+ What type of damage is caused by Oriental fruit moth?

Of the four developing stages (moths, eggs, larvae and pupae) of peach/oriental fruit moth, only larval stages cause a serious damage by feeding on the growing plant parts including twigs and the developing fruits of their favorite host plant species (see below). Immediately after hatching from eggs, young larvae bore into the tips of growing shoots or twigs and start feeding on internal tissues by making tunnels downwards. When they reach to the hard tissue, they exit the hard twigs, find new succulent twigs/shoots, then bore into them and immediately start feeding internally again. All these infested shoots then wilt and die. Both the second and third generation larvae generally cause a serious damage to developing fruits by burrowing into them through stems or directly by making holes into the fruits. When inside the fruit, these larvae feed on fruit tissue by making irregular tunnels in a confined area and become mature. The matured larvae then exit the damaged fruit and enter in the soil or bark crevices for pupation. Although the matured peach fruits may not show any signs of oriental fruit moth infestation, it is well known that their infestation is correlated with the increased intensity of a fruit disease called brown rot.

+ Biological control of Oriental fruit moth

The overlapping generations of oriental fruit moth/ peach during growing season of fruits makes it difficult to reduce the fruit damage caused by the larvae of these moths. Also, oriental fruit moths have developed a resistance many insecticides, which is making it difficult to control this noxious insect pest. Therefore, many fruit growers are looking for the biological alternatives for the control of oriental fruit moths. Biological control agents like beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes and/or predatory and parasitic insects/wasps can be environmentally safe alternatives to toxic pesticides in controlling oriental fruit moths. Three species of beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes including Heterorhabditis bacteriophora, Steinernema carpocapsae and Steinernema feltiae are commercially available and can be applied at the rate of 1 billion nematodes per acre in the soil to target the overwintering larvae as well as pupae and reduce the emergence of next generation oriental fruit moths. Egg parasitic wasps including Trichogramma brassicae, Trichogramma pretiosum, and a mixture of Trichogramma platneri and Trichogramma minutum are also commercially available to use as biological control agents to control of oriental fruit moth. Naturally occurring braconid wasp, Macrocentrus ancylivorus can can suppress the population of the oriental fruit moth by parasitizing their larvae.

+ Parasitic beneficial entomopathogenic nematodes that are effective against Oriental fruit moth
  • Heterorhabditis bacteriophora
  • Steinernema carpocapsae
  • Steinernema feltiae
+ Egg parasitic wasps that are effective against Oriental fruit moth
  • Trichogramma brassicae
  • Trichogramma minutum
  • Trichogramma platneri
  • Trichogramma pretiosum
+ Research Papers

Grewal PS, Ehlers R-U, Shapiro-Ilan DI. 2005. Nematodes as Biocontrol Agents. CABI, New York, NY.

Lacey, L.A., Neven, L.G., Headrick, H.L. and Fritts, R., Jr. 2005. Factors affecting entomopathogenic nematodes (Steinernematidae) for the control of overwintering codling moth (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in fruit bins. Journal of Economic Entomology 98:1863–1869.

Negrisoli, C.R.D.B., Negrisoli, A.S., Garcia, M.S., Dolinski, C. and Bernardi, D. 2013. Control of Grapholita molesta (Busck, 1916) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) with entomopathogenic nematodes (Rhabditida: Heterorhabditidae, Steinernematidae) in peach orchards. Experimental Parasitology 135: 466-470.

Riga, E., Lacey, L.A. and Headrick, H.L 2006. Control of the oriental fruit moth, Grapholita molesta, using entomopathogenic nematodes in laboratory and fruit bin assays. Journal of Nematology 38:168-171.

The following beneficial organisms can control the Oriental fruit moth

  • Double Trouble- S. carpocapase & H. bacteriophora nematodes together

    Double Trouble- S. carpocapase & H. bacteriophora nematodes together

    Steinernema carpocapsae: Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes generally use "ambush" foraging strategy in which their infective juveniles "sit...

  • Double Trouble- S. carpocapsae & S. feltiae nematodes together

    Double Trouble- S. carpocapsae & S. feltiae nematodes together

    Steinernema carpocapsae: Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes generally use "ambush" foraging strategy in which their infective juveniles "sit and...

  • Double Trouble- S. feltiae & H. bacteriophora nematodes together

    Double Trouble- S. feltiae & H. bacteriophora nematodes together

    Steinernema feltiae: Steinernema feltiae uses intermediate type of foraging strategy that is between ambush and...

  • Egg parasitic wasps, Trichogramma minutum

    Egg parasitic wasps, Trichogramma minutum

    Both Trichogramma minutum and Trichogramma platneri are tiny about 0.5 to 1.5 mm long pale...

  • Egg parasitic wasps, Trichogramma platneri

    Egg parasitic wasps, Trichogramma platneri

    Both Trichogramma minutum and Trichogramma platneri are tiny about 0.5 to 1.5 mm long pale...

  • Heterohabditis bacteriophora Nematodes

    Heterohabditis bacteriophora Nematodes

    Heterorhabditis bacteriophora nematodes use a “cruise foraging” strategy. This means that their infective juveniles generally...

  • Molt-X - Azadirachtin for control of insect and nematode pests

    Molt-X - Azadirachtin for control of insect and nematode pests

    Molt-X® is an insect growth regulator registered for use as bio-insecticide in the USA except...

  • Steinernema carpocapsae Nematodes

    Steinernema carpocapsae Nematodes

    Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes use sit-and-wait strategy (ambush) to attack highly mobile insects. They are active...