Description: “Zeuzera pyrina”

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Section: pests

Slug: Zeuzera_pyrina

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Title: Zeuzera pyrina


  • Pests


  • Insecta

  • Holometabola

  • Hymenoptera

  • Lepidoptera

  • Cossidae

date: 2014-07-07

Zeuzera pyrina (Linnaeus)

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Lepidoptera, Cossidae.

Common name: Leopard moth.

Geographical distribution: Europe, North and South Africa, Japan, North America, Mediterranean region. CIE Map #314, 1973.

Host plants: Polyphagous, preferring soft-wood trees, in the Middle East occurring mostly on apple, olive, pear, plum, pomegranate and about 150 other tree species.

Morphology: The adult moth is whitish and covered by numerous dark-bluish spots when developing within apple trees, whereas those from olives have pinkish wings with greenish dotes. The body is darkish with white hairs. At rest the wings are folded along the body, which is 25-30 mm long. The males are smaller (20 mm long). The larva is dark-yellow with black dorsal tubercles, About 50-55 mm long.

Life cycle: The moths occur in the orchards from May to November, dependent upon temperatures, host plant and plant protection practices. A female lives about one week, depositing 100-300 eggs on the bark, mostly on the tree from which it had emerged, or nearby. The emerging larvae bore into young twigs, often at the leaf bases, bringing about the withering on a leaf growing underneath. The larvae then move into elder, thicker branches wherein they continue to borrow into the wood, completing their development there. The pattern of the excavated tunnels differs between trees. In hosts like deciduous fruit trees, the tunnels are straight, whereas in other trees, like olives, the tunnels may be circular or sinuous. Prior to pupation the mature larva bores an emergence hole near the original point of ingress, and seals it by a thin membrane. The young adults break through and emerge. The pest completes a single annual generation in the Middle East.

Economic importance: A single young larva may cause the death of thin branches, by withering or breaking. Although olives are less susceptible, the tendency of the moth to remain on the same hosts results in several pest generations developing there, causing considerable damage to the trees, which become weakened.

In Malta the larvae of this pest also feed on Cerambyx dux, and thus play a role in its Biological control.


Monitoring: Light traps have been used in the past, but were supplemented by male mating disruption traps, placed during spring on the trees, to serve as an early warning system. Another method is to observe the occurrence of “flag leaves”, the withering leaves at the bases of thin branches infested by the young larvae.

Cultural contro: In the past thin wires were inserted through the frass into the burrows, or pesticides were thus introduced. These are time consuming methods and probably suitable only in instances of low infestations. More recently by pheromone threads (650 per hectare) is being used, as it controls the pest on olives during most of the season,.

Chemical control: Organophosphates are used when necessary, but may only be applied against the exposed adults, and cannot be used during harvest. IGRs have been successfully applied.

Biological control: The ectoparasitoid Elachertus nigritulus Zetterstedt, (Eulophidae) has been mass reared from leopard moth larvae, but its effect on the pest’s damage is not known.


Abed El-Hadi, Birger, R., Hanoch, E., Vardi, Y., Sarid, D. and Zemer, B. 2005. Control of Zeuzera pyrina in olives by using pheromone male confusing. Alon Ha’notea 59: 383-385 (in Hebrew)

Avidov, Z. and Harpaz, I. 1969. Plant Pests of Israel. Israel Universities Press, Jerusalem.

Hegazi, E., Schlyter, F., Khafagi, W., Atwa, A., Agamy, E. and Konstantopoulou, M. 2015. Population dynamics and economic losses caused by Zeuzera pyrina, a cryptic wood‐borer moth, in an olive orchard in Egypt. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 17: 9-19.

Ismail, I.I., Abouzeid, N.A. and Abdallah, F.F. 1992. Population dynamics of the leopard moth, Zeuzera pyrina L., and its control on olive trees in Egypt. Zeitschrift für Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pfanzenschutz 99: