BioKIDS home

Kids' Inquiry of Diverse Species

Lobesia botrana

What do they look like?

The adult moth is about 6 to 8 mm long. The front wings are a light, creamy white to tannish color, with black, brown, and grey speckles. Their hind wings are a greyish color. Females tend to be larger than males. The pupae are a dark brown color and usually between 4 to 9 mm long. Larvae, also known as caterpillars, are about 1 mm when hatched, and can grow to about 10 mm long. The larvae are a pale, yellowish/whitish color when newly hatched and usually become light green to light brown in color. The eggs of the European grapevine moth are typically laid singly on the host plant, and have a rounded, flat shape. (CABI, 2014)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • female larger
  • Range length
    6 to 8 mm
    0.24 to 0.31 in

Where do they live?

Lobesia botrana, the European grapevine moth, originally lived in Italy and Austria. It has been brought to other areas of the world, including Europe, north and west Africa, the Middle East, eastern Russia, Japan, and Chile. The European grapevine moth was first seen in the United States in October of 2009 in Napa County, California. (Zalom, et al., 2011)

What kind of habitat do they need?

The European grapevine moth mainly lives on grape plants in agricultural areas. However it also lives on berries as well as twenty-five other plants. These include carnations, cherries, currants, lilacs, nectarines, and plums. European gravevine moths are found in somewhat dry climates, such as the areas of California where they produce wine. (Venette, et al., 2003)

How do they grow?

Depending on the environment, the European grapevine moth can have up to four life cycles per year, although two to three is the most common. They go through complete metamorphosis, with the life stages of egg, larvae/caterpillar, pupae, and adult. The first generation of the year begins when pupae that have been in hiding for the winter emerge as moths when the temperatures are warm enough. Males emerge about a week before females. After mating, females lay eggs 1 to 3 days later. The first generation eggs are laid singly near the flower cluster. Eggs hatch after 3 to 11. The larvae of the first generation feed on the flower parts. Larvae become pupae after 20 to 30 days, and the pupae become adults in 6 to 14 days. These adults mate and produce another generation, and depending on the region, that generation will produce another generation. Eggs of the second and third generation moths are usually laid directly on the berries. The larvae of these generations are the most damaging since they eat the berry itself. In the last generation before winter, the pupae will go into hiding for the winter, and not emerge until spring. (Venette, et al., 2003; Zalom, et al., 2011)

How do they reproduce?

Males and females take flight at dusk to find mates shortly after emerging from pupation. Mating occurs in flight. Females produce chemicals called pheromones that attract males and make the males want to mate. Most females only mate once, though they can mate more. Males likely mate many times with many females. (Zalom, et al., 2011)

Females lay eggs about 1 to 3 days after mating. The first generation of eggs are attached on or near the flower. A female can lay up to 35 eggs per day for 6 days. On average, a single female lays 80 to 140 eggs, though this depends on the generation. Later generation eggs are laid singly and directly on berries. This is where European grapvine moths remain during the larvae and pupae stages of development. (Venette, et al., 2003; Zalom, et al., 2011)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Most females mate only once in their lives, though can mate more. Males mate multiple times.
  • Breeding season
    Lobesia botrana mates during the spring or summer, depending on the region and generation.
  • Range eggs per season
    80 to 140

Female European grapevine moths provide nutrients in the eggs for the developing offspring to grow. Females also lay the eggs on or near a berry plant, which the caterpillar will eat when it hatches. The female provides the caterpillar with a food source, even though after she lays the egg, she will not return and give any more care. (Zalom, et al., 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

After hatching from an egg, the European grapevine moth can live anywhere from 5 to 9 weeks. The egg itself takes 3 days to 11 days to hatch. Adults live for 1 to 3 weeks after emerging from pupation as moths. Total lifespan from egg to death is 5 to 10 weeks. (Gruber and Daugherty, 2012)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 to 3 months

How do they behave?

Not much is known about the behavior of European grapevine moths. They usually fly at dusk when temperatures are cooler. Mating also takes place at this time while flying. (Cooper, et al., 2010)

How do they communicate with each other?

The European grapevine moth mainly uses its sense of smell to find plants it can eat. It also uses its sense of smell to find plants to lay its eggs on. To communicate with each other, adult moths produce chemicals called pheromones. The pheromones let the other moths know when a moth is ready to mate and attracts them. (Vogelweith, et al., 2013; Zalom, et al., 2011)

What do they eat?

These caterpillars feed on the fruit of a variety of plants. The main plants they feed on are grape plants. They can also feed on other berry plants, such as raspberries. After the caterpillars hatch, they will eat the nearest edible surface of the plant. This can be the berries, the leaf buds, or the flowers. (Moreau, et al., 2010)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • fruit
  • flowers

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

There are different predators at different stages of the life cycle European grapevine moths. The main predator during the egg stage is parasitic wasps of Trichogramma spp. In parts of Europe, predators often prey on the pupae when they are hiding for the winter. Green lacewings and spiders are the main predators during the summer months to the caterpillars. (Cooper, et al., 2010; Zalom, et al., 2011)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Caterpillars of Lobesia botrana attack grapevines in several different ways. The caterpillars of the first generation attack the flower clusters because that is the only part of the plant that is available at that point in the season. The second-generation caterpillars, which are usually between July and August, feed on green berries. The larvae go inside the berry, hollowing it out and leaving only the skin and seeds. The third-generation caterpillars, which are usually present between August and September cause the most damage. These larvae feed on the inside of the berries when they are ripe, which makes the grape become contaminated. The European Grapevine Moth ruins grapevines, which causes problems for grape farmers, wine makers and the ecosystem.

European grapevine moths are prey to several predators. They are also parasitized by a large number of parasitoid wasps, as well as several tachnid fly species. Trichogramma wasps are egg parasites, laying their own wasp eggs within the moth eggs, which kill the developing moth. In Europe, Dibrachys affinis and Dibrachys cavus are pupal parasites. They lay their eggs inside the moth pupae, killing it, and then the hatching wasp eats it. Other parasitoids include the ichneumonid wasps Dicaelotus inflexus and Campoplex capitator. ("Lobesia botrana", 2014; Cooper, et al., 2010; Zalom, et al., 2011)

Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species
  • grapes, Vitis spp.
Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

European grapevine moths cause problems for people who rely on grapes. The caterpillars eat the grapes, as well as other berries, and destroy them. Farmers who grow the grapes and berries cannot produce as many when the caterpillars are there, and they lose money. This can also cause higher prices for the grapes and berries, since not enough fruit can go to supermarkets, forcing them to raise prices. This also causes problems for wine makers, since wine is made from grapes. (Cooper, et al., 2010; Venette, et al., 2003)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

How do they interact with us?

European grapevine moths do not have any positive effects on humans.

Are they endangered?

European grapevine moths are not an endangered species.


Natalie Potts (author), Grand View University, Ryan Roberts (author), Grand View University, Sanela Smajlovic (author), Grand View University, Felicitas Avendano (editor), Grand View University, Dan Chibnall (editor), Grand View University, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


2014. "Lobesia botrana" (On-line). Institute for the Study of Invasive Species. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

CABI, 2014. "Lobesia Botrana (grape berry moth)" (On-line). Invasive Species Compendium. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

Cooper, M., L. Varela, R. Smith. 2010. European Grapevine Moth: a New Pest of Grapes in California. Farm Advisors, August: 20-28. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

Gruber, B., M. Daugherty. 2012. "European Grapevine Moth" (On-line). Center for Invasive Species Research. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

Moreau, J., C. Villemant, B. Benrey, D. Thiery. 2010. Species diversity of larval parasitoids of the European grapevine moth (Lobesia botrana, Lepidoptera: Tortricidae): The influence of region and cultivar. Biological Control, 54.3: 300-306.

Venette, R., E. Davis, M. DaCosta, H. Heisler, M. Larson. 2003. "Mini Risk Assessment: Grape berry moth, Lobesia botrana" (On-line). United States Department of Agriculture. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

Vogelweith, F., Y. Moret, D. Thiery, J. Moreau. 2013. Lobesia botrana Larvae Develop Faster in the Presence of Parasitoids. PLOS ONE, 8/8: 1-3. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

Zalom, F., L. Varela, M. Cooper. 2011. "European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana)" (On-line). University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. Accessed March 09, 2014 at

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

BioKIDS home  |  Questions?  |  Animal Diversity Web  |  Cybertracker Tools

Potts, N.; R. Roberts and S. Smajlovic 2014. "Lobesia botrana" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed May 22, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
Copyright © 2002-2024, The Regents of the University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

University of Michigan