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CAPS Non-target - Adult

Acleris nivisellana (Walsingham) (Tortricidae: Tortricinae: Tortricini)

Common names: apple leaf twister

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 2: Female

Fig. 2: Female

Fig. 3: Male genitalia

Fig. 3: Male genitalia

Fig. 4: Female genitalia

Fig. 4: Female genitalia

Adult Recognition

FWL: 6.0-7.5 mm

The following forewing pattern elements are consistent across most individuals: ground color white; large dark brown to black, triangular costal patch; brownish-yellow patch extending from the costal patch to the dorsal margin; and large patch of dark-brown to black on distal one-third of the wing. Males lack a forewing costal fold.

Acleris nivisellana can appear similar in forewing pattern to certain forms of other Acleris species, such as A. forbesana and A. variegana. Most other similar species lack the large patch of dark scales on the distal one-third of the wing that is found in A. nivisellana.

Larval Morphology

Mid- to late instar larvae are approximately 9-16 mm long. Abdominal color varies, while the head is brown to dark brown posteriorly and dark brown to black anteriorly. The prothoracic shield has two large posterolateral black spots, one on each side, and is otherwise concolorous with the abdomen.


Acleris nivisellana appears to complete two generations per year, with adults present in June and again in mid-August and September.

Larval feeding occurs in a silken chamber on the lower surface of leaves along the midrib. Larvae skeletonize the leaves and may partly sever the midrib, causing injured leaves to have a characteristic twisted appearance. Larvae have not been recorded feeding on fruit or other parts of the plant.

Host plants

This species has been recorded feeding on various plants in the family Rosaceae.

Family Genus/species Common name
Rosaceae Crataegus L. hawthorn
Rosaceae Malus Mill. apple
Rosaceae Malus pumila Mill. paradise apple
Rosaceae Physocarpus malvaceus (Greene) Kuntze mallow ninebark
Rosaceae Prunus pensylvanica L. f. pin cherry
Rosaceae Sorbus L. mountain ash
Rosaceae Sorbus scopulina Greene Greene's mountain ash


Acleris nivisellana is distributed from the Northeastern United States across southern Canada to British Columbia and south to California. In the United States it is found mainly north of the 40th parallel.


Chapman, P. J. and S. E. Lienk. 1971. Tortricid fauna of apple in New York (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae); including an account of apple's occurrence in the state, especially as a naturalized plant. Spec. Publ. Geneva, NY: New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. 122 pp.

Powell, J. A. 1964. Biological and taxonomic studies on tortricine moths, with reference to the species in California. University of California Publications in Entomology. Vol. 32. 317 pp.

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