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Episimus argutanus

Sumac leafroller/leaftier adult moth. Photo: Hanna Royals, Screening Aids, USDA APHIS PPQ, Bugwood.
Scientific Name: 
Episimus argutanus
Common Name: 
Sumac Leafroller (Sumac leaftier)
Growing Degree Days (GDD's): 
Approx. 300 GDD's, Base 50F, March 1st Start Date (Source: Robert Childs, UMass Extension.)
Host Plant(s) Common Name (Scientific Name): 
Spurge (Euphorbia spp.)
Sumac (Rhus spp.) *Preferred host.
Witch-hazel (Hamamelis spp.)
Insect Description: 

The sumac leafroller or leaftier feeds primarily on the leaves of sumac. Craighead (1950) reports that two or more generations of sumac leafrollers may occur per year in parts of New England. Moth emergence was reported from May to June and in July to September. In parts of Canada, adult moth emergence may only occur in late May and early June. Moths are dull reddish in color or a grayish brown, mottled with darker patches of color. Fresh specimens may even be tinged with purple. Adult moths have a wing expanse of approximately 1/2 inch. Caterpillars of this species are most commonly reported from Rhus, but also Hamamelis and Euphorbia spp. Caterpillars have been reported from June through late September in New England (Craighead, 1950). Spring generation adults became active in a trapping study completed in PA in 1972 in late May. Adult moth flight activity in this study continued through June and peaked in late June and early July. Flight activity of early season adults ended by July 11 in that study (Jurb, 1973). First generation adults were trapped in late July and August in commercial vineyards in the 1972 PA study. Peak first generation adult flights occurred in August and September and moths continued to be trapped into October. Caterpillar feeding on the leaves of sumac is described as rolling a leaf in a spiral, then securing the rolls with silk bands. Once this is done, the caterpillar joins neighboring leaves to the first. The caterpillar body is greenish in color with small obscure white markings. The head is whitish. Some individuals have a pale brown head and green body, which is also striped with dark green (Clemens, 1860). Caterpillars are approximately 1/2 inch in length at maturity (Craighead, 1950). The sumac leafroller is considered a common species, with a distribution through North and Central America. According to Craighead (1950) this species overwinters as a pupa. Adult moths are often required for identification to species, as there are many very similar species in the same genus. This requires taxonomic observation of the adult moth and often characteristics of the genitalia.

Damage to Host: 

This caterpillar rolls, ties with silk, and defoliates several species of sumac, among other susceptible host plants. In historical literature, there seems to be question about whether or not the caterpillars found on different host plants are all the same species, or a species complex. Injury first appears by June in Massachusetts, and there may be two generations per year here. An initial sumac leaf is rolled and tied with silk, and neighboring leaves are tethered to this location by this caterpillar. The feeding of this insect is not typically considered significantly detrimental to the overall health of the host plant. Typically, management is not necessary. Partial feeding on the berries of Rhus copallina has been recorded for this species (Heppner, 1994).


Moths of the sumac leafroller are reportedly attracted to the sex pheromone of the grape berry moth. Adult sumac leafroller moths were caught in pheromone traps in Pennsylvania (Jurb, 1973). In that study, Sectar I traps were baited with Grapemone I and deployed in PA vineyards on May 11, 1972 with moth counts made twice a week. Monitor for caterpillar feeding activity visually starting in June in Massachusetts. 

Cultural Management: 

On ornamental plants, tied together leaves can be pinched to kill the larva within or removed and destroyed.

Natural Enemies & Biological Control: 

Parasitoids have been noted for the sumac leafroller by Schaffner (1959). These include but are not limited to: Actia spp. (collected from Beverly, Revere, and Roxbury, MA), Nemorilla floralis (New England), Phorocera erecta (MA), Meteorus trachynotus (Melrose and Roxbury, MA), Macrocentrus delicatus (Revere, Roxbury, and Wakefield, MA), Sambus hispae (many localities in MA), Exochus pallipes (New England), Labrorychus spp. (Maine), and Dimmockia incongrua (Roxbury, MA).

Chemical Management: 

Acephate (NL)

Azadirachtin (NL)

Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (NL)

Bifenthrin (NL)

Bifenthrin+imidacloprid (L)

Carbaryl (L)

Chlorpyrifos (larvae) (N)

Clothianidin (NL)

Deltamethrin (L)

Fenpropathrin (NL)

Flonicamid+cyclaniliprole (N)

Gamma-cyhalothrin (L)

Horticultural oil (eggs) (L)

Lambda-cyhalothrin (L)

Neem oil (NL)

Permethrin (L)

Pyrethrin+sulfur (NL)

Spinosad (NL)


This native insect is typically not a significant pest of its host plant and managers are encouraged to tolerate the presence of this insect. 

Active ingredients that may be applied systemically include: acephate (injection), azadirachtin (injection, soil drench), clothianidin (soil drench), and neem oil (soil drench).

Make insecticide applications after bloom to protect pollinators. Applications at times of the day and temperatures when pollinators are less likely to be active can also reduce the risk of impacting their populations.

Note: Beginning July 1, 2022, neonicotinoid insecticides are classified as state restricted use for use on tree and shrub insect pests in Massachusetts. For more information, visit the MA Department of Agricultural Resources Pesticide Program.

Read and follow all label instructions for safety and proper use. If this guide contradicts language on the label, follow the most up-to-date instructions on the product label. Always confirm that the site you wish to treat and the pest you wish to manage are on the label before using any pesticide. Read the full disclaimer. Active ingredients labeled "L" indicate some products containing the active ingredient are labeled for landscape uses on trees or shrubs. Active ingredients labeled "N" indicate some products containing the active ingredient are labeled for use in nurseries. Always confirm allowable uses on product labels. This active ingredient list is based on what was registered for use in Massachusetts at the time of publication. This information changes rapidly and may not be up to date. If you are viewing this information from another state, check with your local Extension Service and State Pesticide Program for local uses and regulations. Active ingredient lists were last updated: January 2024. To check current product registrations in Massachusetts, please visit: .