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CAPS Non-target - Adult

Pandemis limitata (Robinson) (Tortricidae: Tortricinae: Archipini)

Common names: three-lined leaf roller

Synonyms: limitana (Pandemis)

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 2: Male

Fig. 2: Male

Fig. 3: Female

Fig. 3: Female

Fig. 4: Male genitalia

Fig. 4: Male genitalia

Fig. 5: Female genitalia

Fig. 5: Female genitalia

Adult Recognition

FWL: 7.0-9.5 mm (male); 9.0-12.0 mm (female)

Adults are brown with fasciate markings and gray and white hindwings. Pandemis limitata is similar to Pandemis pyrusana and Pandemis canadana, and the three species are not easily separated. A combination of geographic distribution and wing color can assist in identification (see below). In the Pacific Northwest and central Rocky Mountains all three species are present and a reliable species-level identification is difficult or impossible.

Six species of Pandemis occur in the Nearctic. Four, P. canadana, P. lamprosana, P. limitata, and P. pyrusana, are native, while two, P. cerasana and P. heparana, have been introduced from the Palearctic. All species treated here have a straw (yellow) to brown forewing with brown to dark-brown markings consisting of a patch on the costa below the apex, a median band that extends from costa to dorsum, and a basal band. The two bands (or fasciae) may be lined with light or dark scales in some individuals, creating the appearance of three lines running vertically across the wing. Males have a distinctive notch at the base of the antennae and modified dark scales on the ventral surface of abdominal segments 2-3 (this character is absent in P. lamprosana and P. heparana). Males lack a forewing costal fold.

Species identification within the group is difficult. Pandemis lamprosana, P. cerasana, and P. heparana, can be identified by wing color and male genitalia. The other three species, P. canadana, P. limitata, and P. pyrusana, exhibit variable wing patterns, share identical genitalia, and cannot be reliably separated where their distributions overlap. The following table lists a combination of wing color and geographic distribution that can be used to identify many Pandemis individuals collected in the U.S.

Pandemis species Forewing color Hindwing color Sex scales on male 2nd abd. segment Distribution
canadana medium to dark brown all gray present Maine, Colorado, Wyoming, Southern Canada
cerasana straw to light brown grayish brown present Pacific Northwest, British Columbia; Europe and Asia
heparana medium brown light to medium grayish brown absent Pacific Northwest, British Columbia; Europe and Asia
lamprosana tan to light brown white to light gray absent Northeastern U.S., southern Quebec and Ontario
limitata straw to medium brown gray and white present Eastern U.S. and southern Canada; generally absent in the U.S. west of the Rocky Mtns.
pyrusana straw to medium brown all white present Rocky Mtns. west to California, southern Alberta and British Columbia

Larval Morphology

Late instar larvae are approximately 20 mm in length and are entirely green and unmarked with moderately large pinacula and long setae. Earlier instars may have a dark lateral mark on each side of the prothoracic shield. A well developed anal comb is present with 6-8 teeth.

MacKay (1962) examined several species of Nearctic Pandemis and could find no species-specific larval characters. Diagnostic characters for the genus include: SD2 on A1-8 on same pinaculum as SD1; L1 and L2 anterior to spiracle on A2-8; SV group on A1,2,7,8,9 usually 3:3:3:2:2; D2s on A8 as far apart as D1s; D1 on A9 on its own pinaculum; anal setae very long; anal comb with 6-8 teeth.


Pandemis limitata completes one or two generations over most of its range. Adults are present June through August.

Females lay eggs on the upper surface of leaves in large masses that contain between 60-182 eggs. Larvae feed on terminal leaf growth and occasionally on fruit. Those of the first generation complete development in late July or early August. Pupation occurs in the final larval feeding site and adults emerge in approximately 10 days. Third instar larvae of the second generation construct a hibernaculum in a protected site on small diameter growth and overwinter until the following spring, when they resume feeding on leaves and young fruits. 

Host plants

Larvae of Pandemis limitata have been recorded feeding on a variety of deciduous woody plants. This species is considered a minor pest of apple in some regions.

Family Genus/species Common name
Aceraceae Acer negundo L. boxelder
Aceraceae Acer saccharinum L. silver maple
Betulaceae Alnus incana (L.) Moench gray alder
Betulaceae Alnus Mill. alder
Betulaceae Alnus rubra Bong. red alder
Betulaceae Betula L. birch
Betulaceae Betula papyrifera Marshall paper birch
Betulaceae Corylus americana Walter American hazelnut
Betulaceae Corylus L. hazelnut
Caprifoliaceae Viburnum L. viburnum
Celastraceae Euonymus atropurpureus Jacq. burningbush
Cornaceae Cornus racemosa Lam. gray dogwood
Ericaceae Vaccinium L. blueberry
Fabaceae Amorpha fruticosa L. desert false indigo
Fabaceae Trifolium L. clover
Fagaceae Castanea Mill. chestnut
Fagaceae Quercus alba L. white oak
Fagaceae Quercus L. oak
Fagaceae Quercus macrocarpa Michx. bur oak
Myricaceae Myrica gale L. sweetgale
Osmundaceae Osmunda L. osmunda
Rosaceae Malus domestica Borkh. apple
Rosaceae Malus Mill. apple
Rosaceae Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. European crab apple
Rosaceae Prunus avium (L.) L. sweet cherry
Rosaceae Prunus L.
Rosaceae Prunus virginiana L. chokecherry
Rosaceae Sorbus L. mountain ash
Salicaceae Populus alba L. white poplar
Salicaceae Populus balsamifera L. balsam poplar
Salicaceae Populus L. cottonwood
Salicaceae Populus tremuloides Michx. quaking aspen
Salicaceae Salix L. willow
Tiliaceae Tilia americana L. American basswood
Ulmaceae Ulmus americana L. American elm
Ulmaceae Ulmus L. elm
Ulmaceae Ulmus rubra Muhl. slippery elm


Pandemis limitata ranges in southern  Canada from Nova Scotia to British Columbia and in the U.S. from the East Coast west to the Rocky Mountains and Arizona. It is generally absent in the U.S. west of the Rockies. There is a single record from Durango, Mexico.


DeLury N. C., G. J. R. Judd and M. G. T. Gardiner. 2006. Attraction of male Pandemis limitata (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) to natural and synthetic pheromone sources: importance for assessing communication disruption. The Canadian Entomologist. 138: 697-711.

Dombroskie, J. J. 2011. Aspects of archipine evolution (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). University of Alberta, Department of Biological Sciences. Ph.D. dissertation. 488 pp.

Freeman, T. N. 1958. The Archipinae of North America (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). The Canadian Entomologist. 90 (suppl. 7). 89 pp.

MacKay, M. R. 1962. Larvae of the North American Tortricinae (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). The Canadian Entomologist Supplement 28: 1-182.

Mutuura, A. 1980. Two Pandemis species introduced into British Columbia, with a comparison of native North American species (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). The Canadian Entomologist. 112: 549-554.

Tortricids of Agricultural Importance by Todd M. Gilligan and Marc E. Epstein
Interactive Keys developed in Lucid 3.5. Last updated August 2014.