Agricultural entomology: Sesia of the apple tree

Agricultural entomology: Sesia of the apple tree

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Classification and host plants

Class: Insects
Order: Lepidoptera
Suborder: hetoneuri
Family: Sesidi
Genus: Synanthedon (= Conopia)
Species: S. myopaeformis Borkhausen

Bibliographic reference:
Phytopathology, agricultural entomology and applied biology” – M.Ferrari, E.Marcon, A.Menta; School edagricole - RCS Libri spa

Host plants: Apple, Pear, other Rosaceae.

Identification and damage

The Sesia del Melo is one of the species, belonging to the Sesidi group, which attack both the Melo and other Rosaceae. The adults are medium-sized butterflies (about 20-25 mm wingspan); the wings, almost transparent (very similar to those of the Hymenoptera), are covered with scales only in small areas; the margins are bordered in dark and have a central band, in the front wing, always dark.
The body is blackish in color with a striking orange ring in the abdominal region.
The larvae, about 15-23 mm long, are yellowish and have the head and the 1st thoracic segment of an ocher color; they are xylophages and attack, above all, plants that are already compromised, suffering or that in any case have injuries in progress (pruning cuts, Nectria cancers, lesions from other xylophages); however, they can also attack points such as the graft callus and its neighboring areas or the collar area. In any case, the larvae dig superficial, subcortical tunnels, which further weaken the plant both for the disorganization of the tissues, due to the tunnels, and for lecturing obstacle placed to the circulation of the lymph in the affected areas. The damage, especially in the young grafted plants, consists in progressive desiccation and deterioration of the vegetation; moreover, the wounds, caused in the excavation of the tunnels, are an excellent way of entry for secondary pathogens, especially the fungal agents of Cancer of the Pomacee.

Biological cycle

Sesia winters in the larval stage inside the galleries of the attached plants.
The cycle is completed in one year or in two years depending on the environments; in northern Italy it is normally biennial.
The adults flicker, after having made one or two winters at the larval stage, from the month of May to August with a wide interval (this characteristic of the cycle recommends monitoring with sexual traps to realize the actual population of Sesia present in the environment).
Females lay eggs preferably in lesions of the trunk or branches; in any case the eggs are glued with a special secretion on the wooden organs.
The newborn larvae, at the end of the summer, begin to dig superficial tunnels, then, gradually, deeper and deeper, remaining, however, always in the subcortical zone; the larvae overwinter in these galleries. In the 2nd year they can:
- flicker in the summer;
- continue the activity, in the larva stage, in the tunnels to flicker the 3rd calendar year (two-year cycle).
Therefore, Sesia turns one generation every one or two years.

Apple tree Sesia adult - Synanthedon (= Conopia) myopaeformis Borkhausen

Larva of Sesia apple tree - Synanthedon (= Conopia) myopaeformis Borkhausen (photo


The fight against Sesia del Melo is currently almost exclusively chemical, although interesting techniques for biological and biotechnological control are being developed.
The chemical fight against the Sesia del Melo is applied with guided fighting techniques, making an environmental monitoring through sexual traps, in order to establish the flickering peaks that indicate the periods of maximum oviposition. Sexual traps are installed in the orchard in late May with a density of one trap per hectare or two traps per farm. The determination of the intervention threshold is highly variable and depends on:
- the type of orchard and its age;
- the health status of the plants.
In special cases, such as the young age of the orchard (young plants) or if it is a nursery with recently grafted plants, the threshold is also lowered to 20-30 weekly catches per trap per hectare. In other cases the treatments are carried out when the number of catches is believed to be too high. The solutions are aimed at the woody organs, “washing them well. In case of attacks already in place, with larvae not yet entered deep, it is advisable to carry out the treatments according to this scheme:
- autumn treatment by wetting the woody organs;
- repeated treatment in the following spring, with the possible addition of white oil, wetting the woody organs.
Alternatively, the intervention can be performed around mid-June and / or mid-July after sampling the infestation with a threshold of 5-10 Sesia larvae per trunk. The biological fight against the Sesia del Melo can be carried out by using an entomoparasite nematode (Neoaplectana (Steinemema) feltiae) which has proven to be active against the Rodilegno (red and yellow) and Sesia.
Among the enemies that are naturally present in the environment we remember the Larvevorida Diptera, especially Leskia aurea, whose larvae parasitize the larvae of the Sesidi, and the Hymenoptera Icneumonidi.

Video: Portland State Entomology Lab (July 2022).


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