We investigated the factors responsible for changes in abundance of the spruce bud moth, Zeiraphera canadensis Mut. and Free. (Lepidoptera: Tortricidae) in one unmanaged and several managed (i.e., planted) young white spruce, Picea glauca (Moench.) Voss (Pinaceae), stands in northern New Brunswick, Canada. Spruce bud moth densities declined when one stand closed (branches from neighbouring trees overlapped) and had already declined in another similarly aged closed stand, but remained high on 8- to 22-year-old open-grown white spruce. Both the intrageneration survival rate and the egg-to-moth ratios increased when population densities increased, and generally decreased, although the egg-to-moth ratio fluctuated, during the population decline in a managed stand. Increases in intrageneration survival rates of spruce bud moth on 5- to 10-year-old trees were due to increased larval or pupal survival. Crown closure explained 76 and 81% of the variability in larval and intrageneration survival, respectively, in four managed stands. The strong inverse relationship between larval survival and degree of crown closure resulted in statistically significant but spurious relationships between larval survival and larval density and between larval survival and tree age. A reduction in larval survival occurring as degree of crown closure increased was the most important factor influencing decreases in intrageneration survival at the beginning of population decline. Increases in the egg-to-moth ratio during the population increase, and decrease during population decline, suggested that dispersal behaviour and (or) realized fecundity of females also contributed to annual changes in population.