Ponderosa Pine Tip Moth – Retinia metallica

Ponderosa pine tip moth (Retinia metallica)

Latin Name: Retinia metallica

Common Name: Ponderosa pine tip moth


  • Twig dieback is caused by larvae feeding on terminal growth. Around the feeding site, a distinctive circular nodule of purple-red pitch forms.
  • The larvae are reddish-yellow caterpillars within the pitch nodule with a blackhead and a dark region beneath the head.
  • The adult moth has a reddish-brown color with a 3/4-inch wingspan.
  • Brown, white, and silver scales are speckled on the forewings.

Host plants:

Pinyon pine


Throughout the United States

Damages caused by Ponderosa pine tip moth:

Twigs and branches that have been attacked are snuffed out. Leaders are occasionally injured, resulting in forked trees.

Description of Sap Suckers:

Sapsuckers are a type of woodpecker that can be found in North America. Sapsucker wells can be easily recognized. The bird drills a dozen or more small holes in a horizontal line, each less than half an inch apart, with its chisel-like beak. Then it comes back to suck up the sap that has seeped out again and again. When the flow begins to diminish, usually after a few days, the bird makes the second row of holes slightly above the first. A rectangular pattern of neatly spaced holes in tree bark identifies a sapsucker at work. The most common sapsucker is the yellow-bellied sapsucker. It lives in the icy evergreen forests of Canada and Alaska. It migrates eastern states east of the Rockies and winters in the Southeastern United States.

Life history and Habits:

The eggs are placed on the needle sheaths of the current year’s foliage. Newly born larvae devour the young needles before boring nodes or whorls into the bark of twigs or branches. When completely developed, larvae are about 13 mm long, with a reddish-yellow hue, a blackhead, and a dark patch behind the head. Adult flights are most popular in late July and early August.