BugwoodWiki Article

Egyptian cottonworm
Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval)


Egyptian cottonworm is native to Africa. It has been intercepted at US ports, but is not known to be established in North America. Host plants include okra, onion, pigweed, peanut, cabbage, cauliflower, pepper, citrus, taro, tea, cucurbits, carrot, fig, geranium, soybean, cotton, sunflower, tomato, lettuce, apple, alfalfa, tobacco, avocado, pine, pea, poplar, plum, pear, oak, potato, eggplant, spinach, clover, wheat, and corn. Adult females lay their whitish-yellow eggs in masses on the lower surfaces of young leaves with hair scales from their abdomen. The hairless larvae are blackish-grey to dark green, eventually becoming reddish-brown or whitish-yellow as they mature. Dark and light longitudinal bands and two dark, semi-lunar spots on their back help to identify this caterpillar. Larvae begin feeding on the underside of leaves, but move to the upper surface as they mature. Feeding may also occur on fruits, pods, and stems of plants. When fully grown, they can be 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches in length. It pupates 1/2 inches below the surface of the soil in a clay cocoon. When the pupae form, they are green with a reddish color on the abdomen but they rapidly turn dark reddish-brown. The gray-brown adult is marked by grey to reddish-brown forewings with paler lines along the veins. The hindwings are grayish-white, iridescent with grey margins and usually lack darker veins. The adults generally fly a couple hours before midnight. In Egypt, seven overlapping generations have been observed on cotton.

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Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Atelocerata
Class: Hexapoda (including Insecta)
Infraclass: Neoptera
Subclass: Pterygota
Order: Lepidoptera
Superfamily: Noctuoidea
Family: Noctuidae
Subfamily: Xyleninae
Tribe: Prodeniini
Genus: Spodoptera