Agriculture: Grape Pest Management Guidelines

Orange Tortrix

  • Argyrotaenia franciscana (=A. citrana)
  • Description of the Pest

    Although orange tortrix is found in other areas it is generally considered a pest of grapes in the coastal areas and valleys where there is a marine influence for part of the day. At rest the orange tortrix adult is bell shaped and about 0.5 inch (12 mm) long. The female is orange-brown and generally has a faint V-shaped marking located midwing. The male is similar to the female except that it has darker markings. Eggs are laid in overlapping masses. The straw-colored caterpillars have a tan head and prothoracic shield. They are about 0.5 inch (12 mm) long when mature and very active. If disturbed, they wriggle sideways or backwards and either drop to the ground or hang by a silken thread. There are three overlapping generations per year and all developmental stages of this pest can be present throughout the growing season.

    The garden tortrix, Ptycholoma peritana, frequently appears in orange tortrix traps and can be distinguished from orange tortrix by the dark brown diagonal stripe on the forewings that create a chevron pattern when the moth is at rest. The chevron pattern on the garden tortrix is darker than that of the orange tortrix. Garden tortrix also has a light-colored margin on the edge of the chevron, which orange tortrix lacks.


    Orange tortrix causes the same kind of damage as the omnivorous leafroller in inland areas. Overwintering larvae feed on any soft, exposed vine tissue, weeds, and in grape mummies on the vine. Early spring feeding may occur on developing buds. During rapid shoot growth larvae feed within webbed leaves near the shoot tip. Larvae enter the clusters as early as bloom time and make nests of webbing among the berries. Besides injury to leaves and berry stems, their feeding on berries allows entry of bunch rot disease organisms.


    If orange tortrix is a problem, encourage biological control by the judicious use of insecticides, clean up the vineyard during the dormant period as described under cultural control and, if treatments are necessary, spot treat when possible, and ensure thorough coverage of vines.

    Biological Control

    In coastal vineyards the dominant parasite of orange tortrix is Exochus nigripalpus subobscurus. The adult Exochus wasp is about 0.25 inch (6 mm) long, with a black head and body and yellow legs. This internal larval parasite emerges after the larva pupates and can be detected by the presence of round emergence holes on the pupal case. Moderate to heavy parasitism in late spring has resulted in season-long biological control in coastal vineyards. There are indications that coyote brush grown near vineyards in the Salinas Valley will increase parasitism by this parasite by allowing the parasite to overwinter on orange tortrix and other hosts found in the coyote brush. At least three other wasp species and one parasitic fly are known to attack orange tortrix.

    Spiders are often found in orange tortrix nests and undoubtedly feed on larvae.

    Cultural Control

    Clean up the vineyard during the dormant period. During winter, larvae are often found in weeds such as mallow (cheeseweed), curly dock, mustards, filaree, lupine, and California poppy. Vineyard cover crops of oats and barley are also attractive to this pest. Remove dried grape clusters on vines, and disc weeds and clusters on the ground. Do this work at least a month before shoots begin to develop in spring. Damage can often be prevented by harvesting as early as possible.

    Organically Acceptable Methods

    Cultural and biological controls and sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis and the Entrust formulation of spinosad are organically acceptable management tools.

    Monitoring and Treatment Decisions

    Check vineyard areas that have a history of infestation or where infestation is suspected. See MONITORING CATERPILLARS section for monitoring procedures. Check varieties with compact clusters, developing shoots, flowers, or fruit clusters. Examine 10 flower clusters in the center of each of 20 vines for a total of 200 clusters. Look for rolled leaves that are webbed to shoots. Also look for evidence of parasitism. Record results on a monitoring form (example formPDF). Later in the season, look for orange tortrix larvae and webbing inside fruit clusters. If you find an average of 0.5-1 larva/vine, treatment may be warranted if parasites are not present. If the infestation is not widespread, spot treatments can be used. Inside coverage of clusters is essential; treat both sides of the row.

    Pheromone Traps

    Pheromone traps for this pest are available and are useful to follow flights and time subsequent treatments in coastal vineyards. Place pheromone traps in the vineyard in late December. Low-trap catches at the end of January to early February represent the beginning of adult emergence, which will give rise to the first generation. Be sure to distinguish orange tortrix from garden tortrix, which may also be caught in traps but is not a pest. Garden tortrix has a light-colored margin along the forward edge of the dark stripe that forms a chevron pattern when the wings are at rest and a dark, crescent-shaped spot on the distal edge of each forewing. Use the low trap catches in late January through early February as the biofix (identifiable point in the life cycle) to start accumulating degree-days; low trap catches represent the beginning of adult emergence. Monitoring with pheromone traps after biofix will provide more information about subsequent generations of orange tortrix in the vineyard. For information on placing and monitoring pheromone traps, see PHEROMONE TRAPS.


    Calculate degree-days for orange tortrix in grapes for your location using the orange tortrix pest model. Use degree-day accumulation, with a lower threshold of 43°F and an upper threshold of 78°F, from the date of lowest moth catch to predict the subsequent stages of the insect's life cycle. Allowing 1,000±50 degree-days to accumulate after the date of lowest trap catch in late January/early February and in early June will indicate the timing of applications for control of the first and second generations. To learn more about using degree-days to time insecticide applications, watch the degree-days video.

    Common name Amount per acre** REI‡ PHI‡
    (Example trade name) (hours) (days)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
    (Intrepid 2F) 10–16 fl oz 4 30
    COMMENTS: Do not apply more than 48 fl oz/acre per season.
    (Altacor) 2.0–4.5 oz 4 14
    (Entrust)# 1.5–2.5 oz 4 7
    (Success) 4–8 fl oz 4 7
    COMMENTS: Apply when eggs first hatch to target the young larvae. A stomach poison; most effective when ingested. Heavy infestations require a second application in 4 or 5 days. To protect honey bees, apply only during late evening, night, or early morning when bees are not present.
    (Delegate WG) 3–5 fl oz 4 7
    COMMENTS: A stomach poison; most effective when ingested. To protect honey bees, apply only during late evening, night, or early morning when bees are not present. Do not apply more than 19.5 oz/acre per crop per year or make applications less than 4 days apart.
    (Kryocide) 6–8 lb 12 30
    (Prokil Cryolite 96) 6–8 lb 12 30
    COMMENTS: Wine, table, and raisins: 2 applications maximum. Ground application only. If used on wine grapes or grapes that may be sold to a winery for export, observe their restrictions on postbloom applications. Early-season treatment effectively reduces numbers and does not cause outbreaks of pest mites and leafhoppers. Can provide season-long control of low-to-moderate numbers. Good coverage of clusters is critical. Cryolite is a stomach poison that must be ingested to be effective.
    (various products) Label rates 4 0
    COMMENTS: Works best when 2 applications are applied 10 days apart in dry, warm weather during spring when shoots are less than 18 inches long and orange tortrix is found rolling leaves at the tip of shoots. Good coverage is critical. Not as effective later in season when larvae are in the fruit bunches. Not harmful to predatory mites.
    ** Apply with enough water to provide complete coverage.
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Preharvest interval (PHI) is the number of days from treatment to harvest. In some cases the REI exceeds the PHI The longer of two intervals is the minimum time that must elapse before harvest.
    * Permit required from county agricultural commissioner for purchase or use.
    # Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.
    1 Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action Group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action Group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a Group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B Group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a Group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).

    Important Links

    Text Updated: 07/15
    Treatment Table Updated: 07/15