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TortAI Adult Key - CAPS Program

The adult key treats 98 taxa (species, genera, or tribes) that are likely to be encountered during domestic surveys performed under the USDA Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) Program. Taxa are divided into primary targets, secondary targets, and non-targets (defined below). The key assumes that the moths being identified were captured using pheromone traps, and it allows the user to restrict taxa based on trap origin (geographic location). Identification is performed using primarily forewing pattern and male genitalia, although other diagnostic characters for the head, hindwings, and female genitalia are also included. Specific instructions for using the key are provided below.

Primary targets

Ten primary target taxa are treated. These taxa were defined by USDA experts for the 2009 Lepidoptera Adult Identification Workshop as the tortricids providing the greatest threat to U.S. agriculture. Several of these species are present in the U.S. but have a limited distribution. Primary targets are indicated on the fact sheets as "CAPS Primary Target - Adult." The ten primary targets include:

  • Adoxophyes orana
  • Archips podana
  • Archips xylosteana
  • Crocidosema aporema
  • Epiphyas postvittana
  • Eupoecilia ambiguella
  • Grapholita funebrana
  • Lobesia botrana
  • Thaumatotibia leucotreta
  • Tortrix viridana

Secondary targets

Fifteen secondary target taxa are treated. These taxa were defined by the authors of TortAI as those that are most likely to pose a future threat to U.S. agriculture and/or those that were previously included in USDA CAPS surveys. The majority of these species are present in the U.S. or North America but have a limited distribution. Secondary targets are indicated on the fact sheets as "CAPS Secondary Target - Adult." The 15 secondary targets include:

  • Acleris comariana
  • Archips crataegana
  • Archips fuscocupreanus
  • Argyrotaenia ljungiana
  • Cacoecimorpha pronubana
  • Clepsis spectrana
  • Cryptaspasma perseana
  • Cryptophlebia illepida
  • Cryptophlebia ombrodelta
  • Cydia coniferana
  • Cydia fabivora
  • Cydia splendana
  • Enarmonia formosana
  • Pandemis cerasana
  • Pandemis heparana


Seventy-three non-target taxa are treated. These taxa were defined by the authors of TortAI as those that are most likely to be encountered during surveys for, and confused with, the primary and secondary targets listed above. As the North American tortricid fauna includes well over 1,200 described species, it is not expected that all non-targets can be identified using this resource, but coverage should be sufficient to eliminate or confirm target species and identify common non-targets. With a few exceptions, the key does not include forest pests, such as the spruce budworm, as these species are unlikely to be encountered during surveys for the targets treated here. Non-targets are indicated on the fact sheets as "CAPS Non-target - Adult."

Adult key instructions

The adult key is navigated by clicking in a checkbox next to the feature state. Chosen features are displayed in the bottom left pane. Choosing multiple states for a single feature functions as an "OR" statement (e.g., forewing pattern: costal spot OR tornal spot; not costal spot AND tornal spot). Remaining entities (taxa) are displayed in the top right pane and eliminated entities are displayed in the bottom right pane. Because this key has several dependent features, it may be helpful to reload the key if too many mistakes are made selecting features. The key can be reloaded by clicking on the "Restart" (left-most) button.

Use the "Best" function with caution! The keys will function more efficiently if you manually select characters that you are familiar with instead of using "Best." The "Best" algorithm automatically calculates and selects the feature that would eliminate approximately half of the remaining entities. As the keys are designed with several dependencies and many characters are unique to a small group of taxa, the "Best" function automatically skips many important characters. Exclusive use of the "Best" function may not result in a successful identification.

1. Is the moth a tortricid?

Choose "Yes" if the specimen being keyed is a tortricid, or choose "Unsure" if you are not certain. Choosing "Yes" will automatically skip to #3 (below), "Choose the moth's origin." Choosing "Unsure" will automatically load several family level characters. The third choice, "Skip to tortricid characters," is for advanced users only and is not recommended for the novice or first time user (this option skips all family characters as well as geographic origin).

2. Family level characters

This option is only loaded if "Unsure" was selected in #1 (above). Select morphological characters here to determine if the specimen is a tortricid. Six Lepidoptera superfamilies containing taxa that may be easily confused with tortricids are included in the entity list. The next option (#3) will only appear if one or more tortricid species remain in the entity list; if one of the other superfamilies is the only remaining entity, the key is completed and additional resources for Lepidoptera identification should be consulted.

3. Choose the moth's origin

Select the geographic origin of the specimen you are trying to identify. Because surveys for target species can occur in any location, this option only restricts non-targets. If you do not know the origin or are unsure, select "Unknown." It is also possible to select "Exotic" for specimens originating from outside of the continental U.S.; however, this option should be used with caution as the key is not designed to identify most exotic non-targets.

4. Choose the moth's sex

Select the sex of the specimen. Male tortricids have a frenulum consisting of a single bristle, while female tortricids have a frenulum consisting of two or more bristles. Choosing the appropriate sex loads gender-specific characters (such as genitalia). If the sex of the specimen cannot be determined, "unknown" may be selected; however, this option should be used with caution as it will load all characters for both sexes and could lead to incorrect character combinations (e.g., a forewing costal fold in combination with female genitalic characters). Keep in mind that, while pheromone traps primarily target male moths, females are commonly found in traps and the sex of any particular specimen should not be assumed.

5. Head

Three characters are provided for the head. The number of scale rows per antennal segment can be used to separate Tortricinae from Olethreutinae. The other two characters (labial palpi length and ocelli presence) are useful for certain Sparganothini.

6. Wings

Wing patterns are the second most useful diagnostic characters in the key. When choosing forewing patterns, select the predominate feature for the specimen you are examining. In many cases, it may be helpful to select more than one state. Forewing length, the presence or absence of a costal fold (males only), and general hindwing appearance can also be selected. It may be difficult or impossible to make a final determination based only on wing pattern; in most cases a combination of wing pattern and male genitalia will be required for positive identification.

7. Male genitalia

These features will load only if "male" or "unknown" was selected under #4 (above). Male genitalia are the most useful diagnostic characters in the key. Genitalia are grouped by tribal type; these types are fairly consistent and can be selected based on general appearance. The type "other" covers all other types not similar to the four tribes illustrated. Both the Archipini type and Grapholitini type are further divided into genera, which are then divided into species; the other types are divided directly into species. If the genitalia of the specimen you are attempting to key does not match any of the species listed, it may be necessary to back up a level and start again, or accept an identification at the generic or tribal level (Archips sp. or Archipini). Genitalia for all primary and secondary species are illustrated here, thus failure to match a particular species likely means that you can rule out your specimen as a target; however, always consult the fact sheets in detail before making a final determination.

8. Female genitalia

These features will only load if "female" or "unknown" was selected under #4 (above). Because female genitalia are more generalized than male genitalia (with fewer species-specific characters), general characters are listed here that can be used to retain or eliminate remaining taxa. All characters are illustrated and can be selected by clicking on the appropriate image. It is unlikely that two feature states for any single character would be selected in this section. Consult the fact sheets in detail for species-specific characters not listed here.

General tips

When the key is used to confirm or eliminate target taxa, the identifier is successful when either the targets have all been discarded (regardless of remaining entities), or if the key is completed and only a target is left in the entities remaining. When the key is used to identify non-target taxa, the identifier is successful when all target taxa have been discarded and a single non-target is left in the entities remaining. It may be difficult to positively identify all non-targets using this key; other resources are provided in the fact sheets and on this site. The identifier should consult the fact sheets for any remaining entities (next to the species name) to determine if the description of the species is consistent with the specimen being examined. Positive target species determinations may need to be sent to an expert for verification.

Data matrix

The complete data matrix for the adult CAPS key is available here (PDF - opens in a new window): TortAI CAPS matrix.

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