Helicoverpa armigera Hiibner Scarce bordered straw moth

In parts of southern Europe, this notorious tropical and subtropical pest is considered a significant pest of vegetable crops such as artichoke, bean, cucumber and tomato; in some areas, infestations also occur regularly on glasshouse-grown ornamentals such as carnation and chrysanthemum. The moths sometimes migrate northwards (but they very rarely reach the British Isles) where, if conditions are favourable, they may breed; the pest may also, occasionally, be introduced accidentally into such areas on imported produce. The larvae (known as Old World bollworms) are capable of causing considerable defoliation. Also, on tomato, the young larvae often bore into the fruits and may then become important contaminants in crops sent for processing.

BIOLOGY

In Europe, adults of this migratory, multivoltine species occur at any time from April to October. However, the number of generations completed varies depending on temperature. For example, the larvae require temperatures above 21°C for their continued development, with temperatures in the high 20s being the optimum. In temperate regions, pupae may be able to overwinter in the soil but they cannot survive cold conditions.

DESCRIPTION

Adult 30-40 mm wingspan; forewings mainly pale ochreous, greenish-grey to reddish-brown, with slightly darker markings (including a slightly smoky reniform stigma); hindwings creamish-white with a broad blackish border that is more or less straight along its inner edge (cf. bordered straw moth, Heliothis peltigera, below). Larva up to 40mm long; body with distinct humps on the first and eighth abdominal segments; body extremely variable in colour, ranging from purplish-brown with darker pinacula and a pale spiracular band to greenish or yellowish with less conspicuous pinacula; head brown and distinctly speckled; prothoracic plate brownish or blackish. Pupa 15-20 mm long, reddish-brown; cremaster very short, with two long straight spines.

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