Millets and Maize | Spodoptera exigua
Spodoptera exigua (Hübner, 1808); Common Name: Cutworm
Taxonomy Information
Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Arthropoda
Class
Insecta
Order
Lepidoptera
Superfamily
Noctuoidea
Family
Noctuidae
Subfamily
Acronictinae
Genus
Spodoptera
Species
exigua
Author
(Hübner, 1808)
Field Identification

The moth is moderately sized and holds its wings rolled around the body when at rest. The forewings are mottled gray and brown, and normally with an irregular banding pattern and a light colored bean-shaped spot. The hind wings are a more uniform gray or white color, and trimmed with a dark line at the margin. The larvae are pale green or yellow in color during the first and second instars, but acquire pale stripes during the third instar. During the fourth instar, larvae are darker dorsally, and possess a dark lateral stripe. Larvae during the fifth instar are quite variable in appearance, tending to be green dorsally with pink or yellow color ventrally and a white stripe laterally. A series of dark spots or dashes is often present dorsally and dorso laterally. Sometimes larvae are very dark in color. The spiracles are white with a narrow black border. The body is practically devoid of hairs and spines.

Damage

Larvae feed on both foliage and fruit. In Florida it is regarded as a serious defoliator of flower crops and cotton, though much of the injury is induced by insecticide use that interferes with natural enemy activity. Young larvae feed gregariously and skeletonize foliage. As they mature, larvae become solitary and eat large irregular holes in foliage. They also burrow into the crown or center of the head on lettuce, or on the buds of cole crops.

Key Natural Enemies

Chelonus insularis, Cotesia spp., Meteorus sp., indetermined tachinid, Orius spp., Geocoris spp., Nabis spp., Nomurea rileyi, Beauveria bassiana, EPN and a nuclear polyhedrosis virus.

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