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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990370n – 19370   Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner, [1808])
             Old World Bollworm
Distribution Data for Helicoverpa armigera
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Distribution: Native to Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, Pacific Islands; recently introduced into Argentina and Florida.
and Size:
Two to five generations annually, depending on latitude.Adults fly from late may to early November, peaking in July. Wingspan 30-42 mm in length.
Larva and
Host Plants:
Polyphagous; principle hosts are in Malvaceae: Cienfuegosia (fly mallow), Gossypium (cotton), Hampea, and Tespesia (Portia tree). Other recorded hosts of importance include soybean, corn/maize, peppers, and sorghum.
Field Marks:
Forewings creamy tan to light brown with 7-8 small dark spots along outer margin. Underside of forewing with brown submarginal band and renal spot. Hindwings with dark brown scales along veins, margins dark brown, with two pale tan spots between Cu1b and the M3 vein.
Similar Species:
  • Genitalic dissections needed for distinguishing from H. zea. Abdomen of H. armigera with distal apices on the 8th sternite, rounded in H. zea. Vesica of phallus in H. armigera with 6.5-8.5 coils, H. zea with 8-11 coils. More cornuti present in H. zea which can be seen without everting the vesica. Lobes at base of vesica, once everted, differ between H. zea, with three lobes, and H. armigera, with a single lobe.
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
  • (1) Brown, L. et al. 2011. Cotton Commodity-based Pest Survey. (Helicoverpa armigera, pp. 25-36). USDA-CPHST.
  • (2) Pogue, M.G. 2004. A new synonym of Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) and differentiation of adult males of H. zea and H. armigera (Hubner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Heliothinae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America. 97: 1222-1226 [pdf]
  • (3) Gabriela Murúa et al. (2014). First record of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidopera: Noctuidae) in Argentina. Florida Entomologist 97: 854-856. website
  • (4) Boukhris-Bouhachem, S., Hdider, C., Souissi, R., Ghazel, I., and Pizzol, J. 2007. Seasonal activity of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) for improved control management strategies in processing tomatoes. Acta Horticulturae. 758: 89-94
  • (5) USDA-APHIS-PPQ. 2014. New Pest Response Guidelines: Helicoverpa armigera website
  • (6) Todd, E. L. 1955. The distribution and nomenclature of the corn earworm. Jour. Econ. Ent. 48(5): 600-603
  • (7) Species Page at BOLD: The Barcode of Life Data System
  • (8) Schmidt, B.C., J.D. Lafontaine & J.T. Troubridge, 2018. Additions and corrections to the check list of the Noctuoidea (Insecta, Lepidoptera) of North America north of Mexico IV. ZooKeys, 788: 241-252.
Photographs are needed for this species.

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