Pine tip or shoot moths—Rhyacionia spp.
Pine tip or shoot moths occur throughout the United States on most species of two- or three-needle pines.
Moth damage to the central growing terminal can significantly alter tree shape, reducing the marketability
of Christmas trees.
Adult moths are reddish brown with silver gray markings;
some adults begin emerging in January. Females lay tiny
eggs singly on the new growth tips. Eggs hatch in 1 to 2
weeks and the larvae feed on or in the
base of needles or buds. Mature larvae are yellow to pale
brown with a dark head. They cover shoot tips with webbing,
which becomes covered with pitch as the larvae bore into
the shoots and feed for 3 to 4 weeks.
Summer-generation larvae pupate in the tips; overwintering
pupae commonly occur in the litter. The annual generations
range from one in Massachusetts to about four in the southern
United States, including Southern
Consider planting species not
susceptible to pine tip moth. High Nantucket pine tip moth populations
can be reduced by applying a broad-spectrum insecticide to foliage to kill young larvae. The repeated
spraying necessary to provide good control is not justified unless trees are of especially high aesthetic
value, such as in Christmas tree plantations. Spraying can also interfere with the effectiveness of the
parasite Campoplex frustranae, an introduced wasp parasitic on Nantucket pine tip moth larvae and pupae
pine tip moth adult
tip moth pupa in damaged terminal