The Leopard moth (Zeuzera pyrina), is an important pest of many fruit tree species in Southern Europe, including apple, pear, plum, cherry, citrus and olive. It was introduced into North America.
Life cycle and appearance of Leopard moth
The adults have a wingspan of 45-65 mm and white translucent wings with black or blue-black spots. The body is similarly coloured and the males are considerably smaller than the females.The eggs are about 1 mm long; oval and pinkish orange. The larvae are up to 60 mm long and bright yellow with numerous black spots on each segment. The head is shiny brownish black to black.
Eggs are laid in June or July in in wounds or cracks in the bark. Each female can lay several 100 eggs, usually in batches. The newly emerged larvae bore into the tree and start feeding. Young larvae may attack leaf petioles, buds and shoots but later they feed in larger twigs and branches. They tunnel up the hard wood forming long frass-filled galleries. Development takes 2-3 years. The larvae pupate in the feeding galleries in a silken cocoon. In early summer the pupae wriggles out of the gallery to the surface of the branch and the adults emerge.
The presence of the caterpillars is indicated by the accumulation of frass and wood particles that comes out of the entry holes. And later by withering of leaves and die-back of shoots. Infested branches may die and young trees can be killed completely. Trees up to 15 year of age are preferably attacked and the larvae usually occur in branches or stems of less than 10 cm diameter.