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Operophtera brumata (L.)
Insecta, Lepidoptera, Geometridae .

Winter moth, March moth

Description, Biology, Life Cycle, Damage, Common Names, Images


[R]Description
- Adult: body length, 8 to 10 mm. Pronounced sexual dimorphism. Male: wingspan, 20 to 25 mm, dull grey-brown (*) . Female: wings atrophied, flightless yet highly agile, 3 pairs of long legs (*) .
- Eggs: pale yellow then salmon pink (*) .
- Larva: 25 to 30 mm, fairly stout. Green head, body yellowish-green with brown dorsal median line flanked by whitish strips (*) .

[R]Biology
- Host plants: apricot, cherry, apple, plum, and sweet chestnut, red currant and black currant, and many others, including forest trees.
- Multiplication is favoured by wet summers, and mild and moist autumns.
- Adults will tolerate temperatures down to -15°C but are only active only above 0°C. Optimum temperature is between 5 and 11°C. Longevity of females ranges from 2 to 31 days at constant temperatures ranging between 0 and 27°C.
- Fecundity: highly variable, 120 eggs on average.
- Larva: developmental duration, 40 days; 5 instars.

[R]Life Cycle
- 1 generation per year.
- Emergence of adults, ranging from October to December, triggered off by autumn rains and stopped by the cold. On emergence, the females climb up the trunks and larger boughs where mating takes place. The eggs are laid on twigs, in crevices in the bark or at bud axils either singly or in groups of 2 or 3 and then enter diapause.
- The eggs hatch from mid-March to mid-April. The neonate larvae eat the buds and, in the following instar, the flowers and leaves (*) ; the L5 instar may even attack young fruit, boring deep holes into them. From the end of May to the beginning of July, the larvae drop to the ground, burrow down (5 to 10 cm) and pupate, each within an earthen cell.
- Individuals remain in diapause at the pupal stage throughout the summer, and sometimes up to 17 months; they eventually metamorphose into a moth and leave the soil in autumn.

[R]Damage
The insect is a serious pest, causing considerable damage when infestations are heavy.


[R]Common Names
DE: Kleiner Frostspanner ES: Oruga de la piel FR: Cheimatobie, Phalène hiémale IT: Cheimatobia o Falena invernale dei fruttiferi PT: Traça de inverno GB: Winter moth, March moth

[R] Images

  1. Operophtera brumata (L.) (ACTA)
    Male
  2. Operophtera brumata (L.) (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Female moth on cherry blossom cluster in May
  3. Operophtera brumata (L.) (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Eggs Orange coloured (arrowed), in winter diapause, inserted in crevices in the bark of an apple tree.
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  4. Operophtera brumata (L.) (Coutin R. / OPIE)
    Larva on an apple leaf Moves with a looping gait. The arrows indicate the 2 pairs of prolegs typical of the larva.
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  5. Operophtera brumata (L.) (ACTA)
    Damage on apple The lamina is devoured unevenly between the veins.
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  6. Operophtera brumata (L.) (BASF)
    Larvae attacking cherries

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