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// // // Cotton moth (Helicoverpa armigera)

Cotton moth (Helicoverpa armigera)

Helicoverpa armigera

Pest spread in the tropical and subtropical areas, able to eat more than 120 types of plants. The pest is especially dangerous for such crops as: corn, tomato, tobacco, chickpeas, cotton. In the greenhouse, a cotton moth damages Solanaceae (tomato, eggplant, pepper) damaging leaves, trusses and fruits.



Larvae of the first and second age skeletonize leaves, the older ones feed on the generative organs of plants. The caterpillar can cause serious losses in the production of tomatoes, damaging the fruit from the stem and gnawing them from the inside.

How to recognize a Cotton moth

The wingspan of the butterfly reaches 30-40 mm, and the length of the body is about 12-20 mm. The color of the moth can vary. The color of the front wings of the females is orange-brown, and the males are greenish-gray. The spots and lines on the wings are not sharp. The hind wings are lighter, pale yellow with a brown stain in the middle and a strip in front of the outer edge.

Личиночная стадия Хлопковой совки картинка
Larval stage of cotton moth


The color of the caterpillar varies from light green and yellow to dark red. The larvae have a dark pattern on the chest, 3-4 broad dark lines run along the body. Abdominal side of body light, head yellow and spotted. The entire body of caterpillars, with the exception of the anterior thoracic shield, is covered with small spines. The length of the larvae of the sixth age is about 3.5-4 mm.

Гусеница Хлопковой совки фото
Caterpillar of cotton moth


Pupae are 15-20 mm long, not deep (4-8 cm) in the soil. The color of the pupae varies from reddish brown to dark brown.

Куколка Хлопковой совки изображение

Pupa of cotton moth


Eggs round, ribbed, first white, then become greenish.

Life cycle

The lifespan of adults depends on the temperature and is 20-40 days. Imago are active in the evening and night. The temperature and moisture, especially in the winter-spring period, affect the rate of development of the moth population. The optimal temperature is 22-28°C. To lay eggs, the female must eat nectar. The pest has a high fertility: one female for life is able to lay from 500 to 2700 eggs. The embryo in the egg develops from 2 to 12 days. Larvae of the first age hatch. 6 larval instars and the transition to the pupal instar takes 13-22 days. The instar of the pupa lasts about 10-15 days. Adults emerge from the pupae and feed on nectar for a while before starting to multiply and laying eggs. Moths are active in the evening and at night. The flight of butterflies begins when the average daily temperature is 18-20°C. The development of one generation takes 30-35 days. Flight of butterflies of different generations are imposed on each other and last until about October.

Prevention and control

Biological control

In greenhouse eggs and the first larval instars of the pest can be eaten by predatory bugs Macrolofus caliginosus, Orius levigutus, and also larvae of common lacewing larvae. In the open ground, Trichogramma (Trichogramma spp) and other parasitic and predatory insects are used to control cotton moth.

Other methods of control

Pheromone traps are used to monitor the beginning of pest flight and in general the presence of a pest.