Wingspan of 40-48 mm. Forewings reddish to yellowish-brown with a small white stigma. Hindwings dark grey.
First instars are pale green and become yellow-brown to grey-green with age. Paler coloured ventrally. A white dorsal stripe and white or pink lateral lines are present. Head is yellowish brown. Fully grown larvae reach 35-40 mm in length.
Spherical and white to pale yellow in colour, darkening with age. Laid in small lines of 10-50 eggs. Eggs hatch in 8-10 days.
The Americas, Europe, the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa.
Most damaging to arable crops including wheat (Triticum), maize (Zea), rice (Oryza) and oats (Avena).
Larval feeding on leaves results in irregular defoliation of leaves often with only the midrib left. In barley, wheat and rice the panicles and seed heads can be entirely severed. Frass from feeding larvae is usually evident beneath infested plants.
2-5 (climate dependent)