T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Spodoptera litura (Tropical armyworm moth)

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:        Arthropoda
Class:        Insecta
Order:    Lepidoptera
Family:      Noctuidae
Genus:        Spodoptera
Species:    S. litura
Binomial name: Spodoptera litura
Synonyms: Noctua litura, Noctua histrionica, Noctua elata, Prodenia ciligera, Prodenia tasmanica, Prodenia subterminalis.
Common names: NZ Tropical Armyworm moth, Oriental Leafworm Moth, Cluster caterpillar moth, Cotton leafworm moth, Tobacco cutworm moth, Tropical armyworm moth. 

Spodoptera litura is a Noctuid moth and is considered as an agricultural pest. It is found in the Indo-Australian tropics. It is also established on most Polynesian islands where it occurs in a variety of island forms.
This Armyworm moth has grey to reddish-brown forewings with a complex pattern of creamy streaks and paler lines along the veins. The hind wings are grayish white with grey margins. It is a mid size moth with a length of 15-20 mm and the wingspan from 30-38 mm.
The female lays eggs in masses and covers them with hair scales from her body. The egg masses are 4-7 mm in diameter and cream to golden brown. 

The caterpillars are variable in colour starting pale green and turning dark green to brown. Larvae have bright yellow stripes along the back and sides. They feed on a wide range of plants and been recorded from over 40 mostly dicotyledonous plant families. This international pest feed on many garden plants including lettuce, cabbage, beetroot, peanuts, banana, fuchsias, strawberry, and tomatoes.