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Pitch Twig Moth (Rhyacionia comstockiana)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Pitch Twig Moth



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A native tree, the pitch pine is a favorite host plant for this moth's larvae, which ruins the ends of healthy growth.



Updated: 07/07/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Though it is a small moth, the Pitch Twig Tip's caterpillar is considered a pest. The adult female lays eggs on the ends of a pine tree's stem and when the egg hatches, the caterpillar digs into the bud, or tip. The feeding behavior of the caterpillar causes the stem tip to turn brown and curl, killing any chance of extended growth from that branch. The result is a tree with unsightly brown ends, and stunted growth. While pitch pines are popular hosts for this species, other local pines may also suffice.

The small brown and white moth is easily overlooked in a conifer forest, but an infested tree may give clues to the caterpillar?s presence. Gummy masses on tree bark that appear discolored may be a sign of activity for some types of Pitch Tip moths. Strategies to reduce infestation and damage are difficult to employ. Maintaining good tree health can aid in minimizing the interest a moth may have in a tree. Open wounds on trees from pruning and lawn trimmers may attract the insect.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Pest insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Tortricidae
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          Genus: Rhyacionia
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            Species: comstockiana
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Rhyacionia comstockiana
Other Name(s): Pitch-pine Branch Miner Moth
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 11mm (0.39" to 0.43")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; ivory
Descriptors: golden brown bands; brown and white bands; small; flying; pine host; pest
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 11mm (0.4in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 10.5mm
Hi: 11mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Pitch Twig Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Pitch Twig Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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