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CAPS Non-target - Adult

Crocidosema plebejana Zeller (Tortricidae: Olethreutinae: Eucosmini)

Common names: cotton tipworm

Synonyms: altheana (Penthina), blackburnii (Proteopteryx), bostrychodes (Crocidosema), charmera (Eucosma), excitana (Grapholitha), insulana (Crocidosema), iris (Crocidosema), lavaterana (Paedisca), obscura (Steganoptycha), peregrinana (Grapholitha), ptiladelpha (Crocidosema), synneurota (Crocidosema), tornocycla (Eucosma)

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 1: Male

Fig. 2: Male

Fig. 2: Male

Fig. 3: Female

Fig. 3: Female

Fig. 4: Female

Fig. 4: Female

Fig. 5: Male genitalia

Fig. 5: Male genitalia

Fig. 6: Female genitalia

Fig. 6: Female genitalia

Adult Recognition

FWL: 5.0-8.0 mm

Males are dark brown to black with a conspicuous white ocellus and dorsal patch. Females are pale brown to tan with a dark basal patch that does not extend to the costa. Males lack a forewing costal fold.

Male genitalia are characterized by valvae with an enlarged, subtriangular cucullus. Female genitalia are characterized by a pair of lobes or "flaps" projecting from sternum VII and two signa in the corpus bursae.

In the Nearctic, C. plebejana may appear similar to other Eucosmini, including other species of Crocidosema or Epinotia. A genitalic dissection can be used to confirm identity. The bean shoot moth, Crocidosema aporema, can be separated from C. plebejana by a parallel-sided cucullus in the male and a pair of shallow, rounded pockets on sternum VII in the female.

Larval Morphology

Late instar larvae are approximately 8-10 mm in length with an abdomen that varies in color from whitish to yellowish brown to dark reddish brown. The head is yellowish brown to dark brown with black posterolateral margins. The prothoracic shield is dark yellowish brown. Pinacula are small and body colored. An anal comb is present with 4-6 teeth.

Larvae feeding on cotton can cause damage similar to that caused by the pink bollworm, Pectinophora gossypiella (Gelechiidae). Pink bollworm larvae can be separated from C. plebejana larvae by their pink coloration.

For more information on the larva of Crocidosema plebejana, please consult the C. aporema fact sheet and keys on LepIntercept - An identification resource for intercepted Lepidoptera larvae.


Crocidosema plebejana is not known to diapause; although Bradley et al. (1979) report only 1-2 generations per year in southern England. In temperate regions, continuous generations occur and adults are present year-round.

Larvae are reported as a pest of cotton in Australia, but this species has not reached pest status in the cotton-growing regions of North America. In areas where cotton is a preferred host, other malvaceous plants are utilized during times of the year when cotton is unsuitable or unavailable. The life history information provided here is applicable to cotton as the larval host.

Females lay eggs singly on the upper and lower surfaces of leaves in or close to the terminals and lateral buds. Early instars feed on leaves under loose silk webbing. Later instars move to the terminals and tunnel into stems; they may also feed on leaf petioles and young bolls. Pupation occurs in terminal regions in webbed or tied leaves.

Host plants

Although members of the Malvaceae are preferred hosts, larvae have also been recorded feeding on plants in the Anacardiaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Fabaceae, Myrtaceae, Poaceae, Rosaceae, Salicaceae, and Turneraceae.

Family Genus/species Common name
Anacardiaceae Rhus pyroides Burch.
Chenopodiaceae Atriplex limbata Benth.
Fabaceae Phaseolus lunatus L. sieva bean
Fabaceae Senna occidentalis (L.) Link septicweed
Malvaceae [unspecified]
Malvaceae Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench okra
Malvaceae Abutilon eremitopetalum Caum hiddenpetal Indian mallow
Malvaceae Abutilon grandifolium (Willd.) Sweet hairy Indian mallow
Malvaceae Abutilon indicum (L.) Sweet monkeybush
Malvaceae Abutilon menziesii Seem. ko'oloa 'ula
Malvaceae Abutilon Mill. Indian mallow
Malvaceae Abutilon sandwicense (O. Deg.) Christoph. greenflower Indian mallow
Malvaceae Alcea rosea L. hollyhock
Malvaceae Althaea L. marshmallow
Malvaceae Anoda cristata (L.) Schltdl. crested anoda
Malvaceae Gossypium hirsutum L. upland cotton
Malvaceae Gossypium L. cotton
Malvaceae Hibiscus L. rosemallow
Malvaceae Hibiscus laevis All. halberdleaf rosemallow
Malvaceae Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. shoeblackplant
Malvaceae Kosteletzkya C. Presl kosteletzkya
Malvaceae Lavatera arborea L. tree mallow
Malvaceae Lavatera L. tree mallow
Malvaceae Malacothamnus clementinus (Munz & I.M. Johnst.) Kearney San Clemente Island bushmallow
Malvaceae Malva L. mallow
Malvaceae Malva moschata L. musk mallow
Malvaceae Malva parviflora L. cheeseweed mallow
Malvaceae Malva sylvestris L. high mallow
Malvaceae Malvastrum americanum (L.) Torr. Indian Valley false mallow
Malvaceae Malvaviscus arboreus Dill. ex Cav. var. drummondii (Torr. & A. Gray) Schery wax mallow
Malvaceae Malvaviscus Fabr. wax mallow
Malvaceae Sida fallax Walp. yellow 'ilima
Malvaceae Sida L. fanpetals
Malvaceae Sida rhombifolia L. Cuban jute
Myrtaceae Eucalyptus L'Her. gum
Poaceae Triticum aestivum L. common wheat
Poaceae Zea mays L. corn
Rosaceae Crataegus L. hawthorn
Salicaceae Salix subserrata Willd.
Turneraceae Turnera ulmifolia L. ramgoat dashalong


Crocidosema plebejana is a cosmopolitan species that is distributed across southern Europe, northern Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, Central America, and South America. In the U.S., it is found primarily in the Southeast, Texas, New Mexico, and California. 


Bishop, A. L. and P. R. B. Blood. 1978. Temporal distribution, biology and life history of the cotton tipworm, Crocidosema plebiana [sic] Zeller, on cotton in the south-eastern Queensland region. Australian Journal of Zoology. 26: 147-152.

Bradley, J. D., W. G. Tremewan and A. Smith. 1979. British Tortricoid Moths - Tortricidae: Olethreutinae. The Ray Society, London, England. 336 pp.

Heinrich, C. 1923. Revision of the North American moths of the subfamily Eucosminae of the family Olethreutidae. U.S. National Museum Bulletin. 123: 1-298.

Horak, M. 2006. Olethreutine moths of Australia (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae). Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera, Vol. 10. 522 pp.

MacKay, M. R. 1959. Larvae of the North American Olethreutidae (Lepidoptera). Canadian Entomologist Supplement 10: 1-338.

Powell, J. A. and P. A. Opler. 2009. Moths of western North America. University of California Press, Berkeley. 369 pp.

Razowski, J. 2003. Tortricidae of Europe, Vol. 2, Olethreutinae. Frantisek Slamka, Slovakia. 301 pp.

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