Spodoptera littoralis Boisduval Mediterranean brocade moth

This tropical and subtropical pest is established in various parts of southern Europe where it attacks a range of crops, including glasshouse-grown ornamentals and vegetable crops. The larvae (often known as 'Mediterranean climbing cutworms') cause extensive defoliation; they also damage stems and flowers. In the British Isles, larvae are found occasionally on imported plants, especially chrysanthemum; the adult is a very rare 'natural' immigrant.


Eggs are laid in groups and then covered with hairs from the adult moth. The eggs hatch within a few days at normal glasshouse temperatures. The larvae feed mainly at night and, when fully grown, pupate in the soil a few centimetres below the surface. The development and survival of this multivoltine species depends considerably on temperature; breeding is continuous whilst conditions remain favourable.


Adult 35-40 mm wingspan; forewings reddish-brown, with pale markings (some of which highlight the veins) and partly suffused with grey (fresh specimens have a purplish sheen) (Plate 15f); hindwings mainly whitish. Larva up to 45 mm long; body extremely variable in colour (ranging from green to dark brown), often noticeably speckled with white and with paired velvet-black patches on at least the first and eighth abdominal segments.

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