Operophtera brumata

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Operophtera brumata male (click on image to enlarge it)
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Operophtera brumata (Linnaeus, 1758) - (winter moth)

The moth is native to Europe but an introduced species in North America, first detected in the 1930s. The caterpillars attack the buds and young leaves of oak, birch, apricot, cherry, apple, plum, currant as well as chestnut and other forest trees. In orchards, fruits are also attacked at a later stage.

Some populations go through serious, cyclic outbreaks approximately every 10 years. For example, during an outbreak from 2000 to 2008 in northern Norway and Finland, 10,000 km2 of mountain birch were defoliated. The adults can tolerate low temperatures but this species is only active above the freezing point.

Vernacular names
• Deutsch: Kleiner Frostspanner
• English: winter moth
• Español: oruga de la piel
• Français: cheimatobie
arpenteuse tardive


In North America, exotic parasitoids have been released in the 1980s. They seem to have some effect in preventing prolonged outbreaks.

For details see the respective page in Wikipedia.