Home / Crambid Snout Moths (Crambidae) / Pickleworm Moth (Diaphania nitidalis)

Pickleworm Moth (Diaphania nitidalis)

The pickleworm moth is a member of the family of grass moths, known for being a major pest to squash plants in the United States.

Pickleworm Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Crambidae
  • Genus: Diaphania
  • Scientific Name: Diaphania nitidalis

Description and Identification


The larvae are of a transparent whitish-green color, covered with black spots. They have a thin build and go through five instars. At the final stage, they lose their spots, and attain a coppery color, reaching to lengths of up to 2.5 cm.

Pickleworm Moth Caterpillar



The pupae are light to dark-brown, tapering off at both ends, being 13mm long, and 4 mm wide. Pupation takes place for 8-10 days, with the mature larva using dead leaves as a cocoon, held together weakly with thin strands of silk.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance:

A signature tuft of anal hair that looks like a paintbrush is present in both sexes. The legs of this moth are white.

Forewing: When the wings are opened, they are seen to be an iridescent purple-brown color, with a translucent yellow patch spreading to the hindwing. When the wings are closed, the colors and patterns remain the same.

Hindwing: When the wings are opened, similar to the forewings, an iridescent purple-brown color is observed, alongside a translucent yellow patch shared with the forewing, ending at the border. When the wings are closed, there is no change in the color and pattern.

Average wingspan: 2.5-3.2 cm

Flight pattern:  Erratic

Season: August – October

Diaphania nitidalis



Eggs are initially white, turning yellow in about 24 hours from being laid. Minute in size, they measure 0.4 – 0.6 mm in width and 0.8 mm length.
Adult moths lay the eggs a few days after pupation, in a cluster of about 2-7 on the growing parts of the plants like flower, leaf buds, and stems.

Pickleworm Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

DistributionNorth America; including  Maine to Florida, and the area west to Nebraska and Texas
HabitatWarm, humid, and tropical regions
Lifespan of AdultsNot recorded
Host PlantsCucurbit plants like squash, cucumbers, and melons. Sometimes pumpkins and cantaloupes are attacked as well
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • Amsterdam entomologist and naturalist Casper Stoll first described this species in 1781.
  • Larval damage can be observed from the feces excreted out of the infested host plant.
Pickleworm Moth Image


Pickleworm Moth Picture


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