Homoeosoma nebulella Denis Schiffermiiller Sunflower moth

This moth is associated with various members of the Asteraceae and, in the warmer parts of continental Europe, is a pest of sunflower. The larvae feed on the inflorescences of host plants, at first devouring pollen but later burrowing into the flowers or maturing seeds. In severe cases over a quarter of sunflower seed yields may be lost. Although present and widely distributed in England, this species is not of pest status in the British Isles.

BIOLOGY

Larvae of the first generation occur on wild hosts, usually feeding in late May and early June. Sunflower crops are attacked by larvae of the second generation, rather than the first, as eggs will not be deposited unless flowers are producing pollen. Attacks will continue into early winter, so long as the crop has not been harvested and suitable flowers are still available. The pest usually completes two or three generations in a season.

DESCRIPTION

Adult 22-27 mm wingspan; forewings ash-grey with a brownish sheen, and each marked with a few scattered dark spots (Fig. 301); hindwings pearly and translucent. Egg 1mm long, yellowish-white. Larva up to 14 mm long; body pale greenish-yellow to dirty grey, marked with reddish or purplish dorsal, subdorsal and spiracular lines; head brown; prothoracic plate green.

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