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Digital Guide to Moth Identification

990655n – 19655   Spodoptera litura (Fabricius, 1775)
             Oriental Leafworm
Distribution Data for Spodoptera litura
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Distribution: Asia, Africa, and Europe; not found in North America north of Mexico.
and Size:
Depending on climate, two to seven generations annually.
Wingspan 28-38mm.
Larva and
Host Plants:
Larvae are polyphagous and difficult to identify in early instars, host plants cannot be used reliably for identification of larvae, with the exception of S. litura on orchids in Thailand. Host plants include representatives of the Malvaceae (okra and cotton), Alliaceae (onion), Fabaceae (peanut, cowpea, pea, bean, soybean, alfalfa and chickpea), Anacardiaceae (mango) Moraceae (fig), Apiaceae (carrot and fennel), Begoniaceae (begonia), Amaranthaceae (spinach), Cucurbitaceae (watermelon, cucumber, squash and pumpkin), Caricaceae (papaya), Brassicaceae (mustard greens, raddish, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and turnips), Solanaceae (tomato, eggplant, potato, tobacco bell pepper and chili pepper), Asteraceae (chrysanthemum, lettuce and sunflower), Rutaceae (lemon), Rosaceae (apple and peach), Poaceae (corn, wheat, rice and sugarcane), Rubiaceae (coffee), Musaceae (banana), Zingiberaceae (ginger) and Convolvulaceae (sweet potato and common morning glory).
Field Marks:
Forewings brown with lighter reddish brown shaded areas and a silvery gray preterminal fascia. Hindwings silvery white with dark brown margin. Hindwing fringe white.
Genitalia: Compare with S. frugiperda
Similar Species:
  • Distinguishable from S. littoralis only through genitalic examination.
    S. litura female with ductus and ostium bursae the same length, unequal lengths in S. littoralis.
    S. litura male with two "windows" on the valva, absent in littoralis.
    S. litura male with triangular juxta, squared in S. littoralis
  • Pinned specimens of related species. (Hint: select View by Region on the related species page.)
  • (1) Gilligan, T.M., and Passoa. 2014. LepIntercept- An identification resource for intercepted Lepidoptera larvae. USDA-APHIS-PPQ Identification Technology Program (ITP). Fort Collins, CO. website
  • (2) Passoa, S. C. 2014. Key to recognizing Spodoptera litura/littoralis intercepted at U.S. ports of entry, 4 pp. In: Gilligan, T. M. and S. C. Passoa. LepIntercept, An identification resource for intercepted Lepidoptera larvae. Identification Technology Program (ITP), USDA/APHIS/PPQ/S&T, Fort Collins, CO. [accessed at] [pdf]
  • (3) Brambila, J. 2009. Steps for the dissections of male Spodoptera moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and notes on distinguishing S. litura and S. littoralis from native Spodoptera species. website
  • (4) Sullivan, M. 2007. CPHST Pest Datasheet for Spodoptera litura. USDA-APHIS-PPQCPHST. Revised April 2014. [pdf]
  • (5) Brambila, J. 2013. Identification notes for Spodoptera litura and Spodoptera littoralis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and some native Spodoptera moths.[pdf]
  • (6) Species Page at BOLD Barcoding Project - website.
Spodoptera litura
Christi Jaeger, MEM

Moth Photographers Group  at the  Mississippi Entomological Museum  at the  Mississippi State University

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