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Citrus Pests


False codling moth


Scientific name


Thaumatotibia leucotreta (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae)

Similar species


litchi moth, Cryptophlebia peltastica

macadamia nut borer, Thaumatotibia batrachopa

pyralid moth, Mussidia nigrevenella



United States: not known to occur in the United States.

Worldwide: Africa, some islands close to Africa, occasionally found in Europe.

Native to Africa.

Diagnostic characteristics

  • Size 6 - 9 mm (0.24 - 0.35 in.) in length, 2.5 mm (0.1 in.) in width.
  • Body is grayish-brown to dark brown or black.
  • The forewings have a black triangular patch. The hindwings are lighter grayish-brown, darker on the outer edges.
  • Broad elongate front wings with a wingspan of 16 - 20 mm (0.63 - 0.79 in.). The front wings also have a fringe of hairs.
  • Antennae are thin and multi-segmented with tiny hairs on each segment (setiform).
  • 7 mm (0.28 in.).
  • Cream-colored and soft initially, turning yellow to dark brown as it hardens.
  • Cylindrical.
  • The cocoon can contain soil and leaf fragments
  • Five larval instars.
  • 1 - 20 mm (less than 0.1 - 0.79 in.).
  • Creamy white and brownish-black head initially with minute black spots; each with a hair-like structure (setae). Light overall pink color as it ages with orange-yellow color on the sides, top, and legs. Head is light maroon.
  • 1 mm (less than 0.1 in.)
  • Translucent white
  • Flat and oval
  • Surface is shiny with a pattern on it.


Citrus hosts

All Citrus species and their hybrids.

Non-citrus hosts

A partial list includes:

  • banana, Musa x paradisiaca (pro. sp.)
  • bean, Phaseolus spp.
  • bloubos, Royena pallens
  • boerboon, Schotia afra
  • buffalo thorn, Zizyphus mucronata
  • bur weed, Triumfeta spp.
  • carambola, Averrhoa carambola
  • castorbean, Ricinus communis
  • chayote, Sechium edule
  • coffee, Coffea spp.
  • Cola nitida
  • corn, Zea mays
  • cotton, Gossypium spp.
  • cowpea, Vigna spp.
  • custard apple, Annona reticulata
  • elephant grass, Pennisetum purpureum
  • English walnut, Juglans regia
  • grape, Vitis spp.
  • guava, Psidium guajava
  • governor's plum, Flacourtia indica
  • Indian mallow, Abutilon hybridum
  • jakkalsbessie, Diospyros mespiliformis
  • jujube, Zizyphus jujuba
  • jute, Abutilon spp.
  • kaffir plum, Harpephyllum caffum
  • kapok/copal, Ceiba pentranda
  • khat, Catha edulis
  • kudu-berry, Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia
  • lima Bean, Phaseolus lunatus
  • lychee, Litchi chinensis
  • loquat, Eriobotrya japonica
  • Macadamia ternifolia
  • mango, Mangifera indica
  • mangosteen, Garcinia mangostana
  • peach, Prunus persica
  • plum, Prunus spp.
  • Theobroma cacao

Host damage

  • Larval burrowing damage - 1 mm (less than 0.1 in.) holes can cause premature ripening and fruit drop.
  • Can infest hard green citrus fruit.
  • Larvae prefer the navel end of citrus but can burrow anywhere on the fruit leaving excrement (frass) around the opening.



Females prefer to deposit their eggs at night between the hours of 5:00 and 11:00 PM directly on the fruit. However, they can oviposit on leaves, fallen fruit, and smooth-surfaced tissue. One to three larvae typically survive per fruit. The larvae pupate in soil, bark crevices, fallen fruit, or debris. Two to ten generations are possible annually; with five generations reported annually on citrus in South Africa.



The false codling moth is considered a very important quarantine pest.

Synonyms of the false codling moth include Cryptophlebia leucotreta.



Grové, T., W.P. Steyn, and M.S. De Beer. 1999. The false codling moth, Cryptophlebia leucotreta(Meyrick) (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) on avocado: a literature review. South African Avocado Growers' Association Yearbook 22: 31-33.

Hoffman, K. False codling moth pest profile. Calif. Dept. Food Agric.(

Stibick, J. 2006. New pest response guidelines: False codling moth, Thaumatotibia leucotreta. USDA APHIS PPQ Emergency and Domestic Programs, Riverdale, Maryland. (

U.S. Department Of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Emergency and Domestic Programs. 2010. New pest response guidelines: False codling moth Thaumatotibia leucotreta. (

Venette, R.C., E.E. Davis, M. DaCosta, H. Heisler, and M. Larson. 2003. Mini-risk assessment: False codling moth, Thaumatotibia (= Cryptophlebia) leucotreta (Meyrick) [Lepidoptera: Tortricidae]. Univ. of Minnesota, Department of Entomology. (



Martin, K.W., J.A. Weeks, A.C. Hodges, and N.C. Leppla


Citrus Pests
Content last updated June, 2012