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Cotton semi-looper (398) Print Fact Sheet

Common Name

Cotton semi-looper, okra caterpillar

Scientific Name

Anomis flava; it was previously known as Cosmophila flava. It is a moth of the Erebidae.


Worldwide. Asia, Africa, North, South and Central America, Oceania. It is recorded from American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Northern Mariana Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.


Bele, cotton, okra, tomato, ornamentals, e.g., hibiscus, and weeds, e.g., Sida acuta, Urena species. Mostly members of the mallows or Malvaceae family.

Symptoms & Life Cycle

The larva or caterpillar does the damage by eating large parts of the leaves. Occasionally, entire plants are defoliated.

Eggs are laid singly on leaves. They hatch to produce long, green larvae with seven rows of faint, white dots or broken bands along the body, and yellowish bands between the segments (Photo 1). There are four pairs of abdominal feet (prolegs) on segments 4,5, 6 and 10, and because of the missing prolegs the larva moves like a looper. Pupation occurs in folded leaves or amongst leaves on the soil. The adults have a wingspan of about 30 mm (males about 25 mm), and they are 12 mm long. The forewings are a mottled brown with patches of gold near the body; the hind wings are yellow-brown (Photo 2).


It was not thought to be damaging on bele in Fiji, and no recommendations were given by Swaine (1971)1. In India, it is said to be a serious pest of cotton in Gujarat and Rajasthan States, but only occasionally, and in some parts of the coutnry. The mature larvae cause the most damage, eating leaves entirely, except for the main veins, as well as attacking shoots, buds and bolls (on cotton). Reports from Tamil Nadu say that epidemics occur in years of heavy rainfall.

Detection & Inspection

Look for the distinctive long green larvae, with white lines or dots along the body and yellowish lines between segments. Look for the attractive adult with golden patches near the body on the forewings.


Studies in India and Brasil report tachinid flies and wasp parasitoids as natutal enemies of Anomis flava. In India, there are also entomogenous fungi causing high mortality. In Orissa, several biorational pesticides (e.g., Bt, spinosad, neem) had no effect on wasp parasiotids. However, natural enemies are not reported from Pacific island countries, but are likely to be present causing similar effects.


Before planting:

During growth:

After harvest:


AUTHORS Grahame Jackson & Mani Mua
1Information from Swaine G (1971) Agricultural Zoology in Fiji. Her Majesty's Stationery Office. London; and Arora R et al. Integrated pest management of cotton in Punjab, India. University of Minnesota. (; and from CABI (2018) Anomis flava (semi-looper). Crop Protection Compendium. (

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project HORT/2016/18: Responding to emerging pest and disease threats to horticulture in the Pacific islands, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Pacific Community.

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