- Worldwide distribution. On beans, capsicum, cotton, maize, okra, sorghum, tomato, and to a lesser extent legumes, tobacco, and many weeds. An important pest.
- Eggs laid on tomatoes or weeds nearby. At first, the larvae feed on leaves; later, bore into flowers and fruit. Fungi and bacteria enter and cause rots.
- In maize (corn), damage to tip of cob allows weevils to invade.
- Natural enemies: present but often too slow to prevent damage when large numbers of moths invade an area.
- Cultural control: remove weeds, and collect remains of crops and destroy. Scout for young caterpillars. Plant sunflowers at random as a trap crop, attracting moths to lay eggs.
- Chemical control: Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) or NVP (against early stages). Synthetic pyrethroids, alternate with other insecticides in different groups to avoid resistance occuring, but they will kill natural enemies.
Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides
Tomato fruit borer (corn earworm) (112)
Photo 1. Caterpillar of the tomato fruit borer (corn earworm), Helicoverpa armigera, eating a tomato. Note the three stripes on the top of its body.
Photo 2. Caterpillar of the tomato fruit borer (corn earworm), Helicoverpa armigera, eating a tomato. Note that there may be considerable variation in the colour and marking of this insect; compare with all the others.
Tomato fruit borer, corn earworm, cotton bollworm
Helicoverpa armigera, previously Heliothis armigera.
AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
Information from Waterhouse DF, Norris KR (1987) Biological Control Pacific Prospects. Inkata Press. Helicoverpa (2020) Business Queensland. Queensland Government. (https://www.business.qld.gov.au/industries/farms-fishing-forestry/agriculture/crop-growing/pests-field-crops/helicoverpa). DPI&F (2005) insects. Understanding Helicoverpa ecology and biology in southern Queensland: know the enemy to manage it better. Queensland Government. (https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/72689/Insects-Helicoverpa-ecology-biology.pdf). Photos 1&2 Pita Tikai, ACIAR PC/2010/090, Solomon Islands. Photos 3-8,10&12 Mani Mua, SPC, Sigatoka Research Station, Fiji. Photo 9 Georg Goergen/IITA Insect Museum, Cotonou, Benin.
Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.