Cotton Boll Worm – Helicoverpa armigera




Wingspan of 35-40 mm. Forewings usually greenish-grey in males and orangey-brown in females but variable. A line of 7-8 blackish spots are located along the margin and an irregular transverse brown band is present. Hindwings are pale straw colour with a broad dark brown border with a paler patch. A medial dark comma shaped marking is present.


Early instars are yellowish-white to reddish-brown. Head, prothoracic plate, anal plate and prothoracic legs are all dark brown to black. Spiracles and pinacula also dark. Fully grown larvae reach 30-40 mm in length. Body colour varies from green to yellow or pinkish to reddish-brown. A narrow dark median dorsal band is present with contrasting paler bands laterally. Spiracles show up along pale band. The head is brown and mottled and the final body segment elongated with the underside somewhat pale.


Semi-spherical 0.4-0.6 mm in width, initially yellowish-white and becoming reddish-brown with age. Surface sculpture ribbed. Usually laid on plants that are flowering or close to flowering and on hairy surfaces.


Worldwide except North and Central America

Economic Host(s)

A wide range of crops including cotton, maize, chickpea, tomato, beans, soybean and potato


Early instars often feed on leaves and buds while later instars bore into fruits and pods to feed. Frass is often present near the entrance holes.




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