Lobesia botrana (Denis and Schiffermüller)
Common name: European grapevine moth.
Geographical distribution: Mediterranean basin, Middle Europe, Southern Asia to Japan. CIE Map #70, 1974 (revised).
Host plants: Grapes and the fruits of apple, peach, pear, plum and many others.
Morphology: The adult is brown-green, about 6-7 mm long, its forewings green-yellow-grey, hindwings grey. Both pairs of wings with long fringes. The larva is greenish-brown, 10-12 mm long, its body is covered with small setae set on tubercles.
Life history: These nocturnal moths hide during day, feeding on various sugar-containing fluids and copulating in flight. Each female lays about 80-300 eggs, mostly singly on the buds, flowers or berries. The emerging larvae feed there and move within the bunch, each attacking several berries. When fully grown they pupate in hiding places between leaves, within bark crevices or even in the soil. In the Middle East the moth requires ca 600 day-degrees for a generation; fewer may be needed in the early generation, more in later ones. The threshold of development is 10.5ºC. Development requires about 4-5 weeks in the spring, less in summer, and the pest raises 3-4 annual generations in the Middle East. The last generation goes into winter diapause which is terminated next spring. Females attract males by a sex pheromone that is usually produced during the dark hours.
Economic importance: This polyphagous moth mainly damages grapes, but olives, pears, persimmon, pomegranate and roses may also be affected. The first-generation larvae feed on grape flower buds and flowers. Later larvae, especially those of the summer generation, invade several berries to feed therein and continuously secrete much webbing, which binds these plant parts together with the insects’ fecal pellets. Affected buds and flowers wilt whereas infested berries shrink and drop, leaving bare stalks. Even shallow nibbling on the berries can result in the invasion of mold fungi, causing further damage. Heavy attacks may result in yield losses from 40% (for table grapes) to 80% or more (for wine grapes). The longer the harvest lasts, the greater the damage. Damage is compounded by increased susceptibility to the grey mold, the fungus Botrytis cinerea Pers., and to the development of yeasts in the wounded berries. These attract fruit moths such as Cryptoblabes gnidiella and vinegar flies (such as Drosophila melanogaster which cause more injury.
Monitoring: Pheromone traps amongst the vines during spring can serve as an early warning system, needed to determine the timing of control measures. The presence of the larvae within the bunches can later be recognized by silk webs that bind together bunches, flowers and buds.
Horticultural control: Table grapes that are trained along wire trellises are less attacked than wine grapes that are goblet-like pruned. Early varieties suffer less damage than late varieties.
Plant resistance: Early varieties, and/or those that blossom early, and those with sparse bunches, usually suffer less than late varieties, whose blossoming is prolonged, and those with densely-packed berries.
Mating disruption: Slow-release pheromone ropes (950/hectare) or dispensers (500/hectare) can control the pest during most of the season, but towards autumn this method becomes less effective. Some growers may not use mating disruption due to its high costs, as compared with that of chemical control.
Sterile insect technique: This approach is being explored in Israel.
Chemical control: Pyrethroids and are avermectins are often used, at times in a compound that also includes an Insect growth regulator (IGRs).
Biological control: In the Middle East the pest is attacked by parasitoids of the genus Trichogramma (Trichogrammatidae), which attack more than 25% of the moth population and result in significant crop increases. In Europe the parasitoid Campoplex capitator Aubert (Ichneumonidae) is very common, attacksing 20-50% of the pest’s larvae, and in Jordan Ascogaster quidridentata Wesmael (Braconidae) parasitized 44% of the pests. Various generalist predators (including birds) also attack the moth but none are known to reduce its economic damage. Dustings of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) compounds provided better results in grape vines with loose, average and dense berry cluster compactnes, whereas spraying gave better results in compact cultivars. Such treatments, along with mating disruption, also provided good pest control.
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