Microlepidoptera on Solanaceae

Symmetrischema capsicum


Symmetrischema capsicum (Bradley & Povolný, 1965)

Common name: pepper flower-bud moth

Original combination: Gnorimoschema capsicum Bradley & Povolný, 1965

Synonyms: none

Classification: Gelechioidea: Gelechiidae: Gelechiinae: Gnorimoschemini

Name and publication

Adult recognition

Adults are about 3.0-3.5 mm in forewing length. They are ash gray, mottled with dark gray and yellowish-orange with two or three grayish-black longitudinal dashes from median to preapex. The labial palpus is upturned. The hindwing is gray without hair-pencils in males. The abdomen has hair-pencils arising laterally from near the base of the eighth sternum in males. The male genitalia have a hood-shaped uncus with small lateral stubs, sagittate gnathos, valva short and thin with spatulate apex, and phallus with a short lateral process without numerous fine spines at the tip. Females have an ostium with strongly sclerotized sclerites, with the caudal margin very slightly undulate, a stout funnel-shaped antrum leading into a very short ductus bursae, the colliculum well developed, and signum absent.


Immature stages

The prothoracic shield is uniformly brown or black. The line joining setae L1 and S2 is tangent to or passing through stemma I. The lateral setae of abdominal segment 9 are in a nearly vertical line. The legs are pale.

PDF - Dichotomous key to Gelechiid larvae

Nativity and distribution

Similar species

This species is superficially similar to Keiferia gudmanella (Walsingham), but it differs by the hindwing not having hair-pencils in males of S. capsicum, whereas males of K. gudmanella have hair-pencils arising from near base of costa of the hind wing. Also it can be differentiated by the male genital characters: the uncus is hood-shaped with small lateral stubs in S. capsicum, whereas the uncus is sickle-shaped in K. gudmanella.

Symmetrischema capsicum can be separated from other species in this tool by the lack of a dark band on the posterior margin of the prothoracic shield, the trisetose L group on A9, the rounded head, pale thoracic legs, the eastern United States distribution and the host being pepper or Physalis. The legs of P. operculella are pigmented.


Eggs are laid on the youngest shoots near flower buds. After eclosing, larvae enter the bud. Pupation is in the ground or debris but outside the flower bud in pepper. Pupation in Physalis occurs inside the fruit.



Native to the West Indies. USA (Florida, Texas, in states bordering the Gulf of Mexico), Mexico, West Indies, Caribbean (Trinidad, Tobago).


Capsicum annuum L. (Cayenne pepper)

Physalis spp. (groundcherry)


The larval feeding in the bud causes the bud to fall off.


Bennett, 1995.

Bradley and Povolný, 1965.

des Vignes, 1978.

des Vignes, 1981.

Povolný, 1967.

Schuster, 1960.

Wilson, 1923.