European pine shoot moth

Rhyacionia buoliana

This moth could harm our forestry industry. It nestles in growing pine shoots, deforming the tree's growth.

About the European pine shoot moth

This moth is a native of Europe. It has spread to other countries and is now a major pest in Chile.

The females can fly several kilometres. Large areas can soon become infested with offspring.

Global distribution of the moth

World map showing distribution of European pine shoot moth.

Why this is a problem for New Zealand

The caterpillars make holes and galleries (tunnels) in the growing shoots of pine trees. This damage can cause the tree to grow crookedly and can kill the growing shoot.

While they may not die, trees infested with this moth will be shorter and narrower than unaffected trees.

How could it get here?

The only likely way for the moth to get here is in part of a pine tree, such as a stem, branch, or shoot.

How to identify the European pine shoot moth

The moth and its caterpillar only feed on pine trees. The caterpillars:

  • are 12mm to 15mm long
  • are coloured light yellowish-brown to brown
  • have a black head.

Adult moths:

  • have front wings that are orange-red, with silver, irregular stripes
  • are about 20mm long.
Brown coloured caterpillar with dark coloured head Rusty orange winged moth with irregular stripes.
Left: Caterpillar on a pine shoot. Image: CC BY-NC by Mariusz Sobieski,
Right: Male moth on a pine needle. Image: CC 2.0 by Patrick Clement

If you think you've found the European pine shoot moth or caterpillar


Note: This information is a summary of this pest's global distribution and potential impacts on New Zealand.

Last reviewed: