Mythimna separata


In a Nutshell

    The caterpillars feed on seedlings or leavesAt later stages they might also attack young cobsThey preferably eatleaf tips and margins, giving the leaf a saw-like appearanceWet, brown lines of frass can be observed near the feeding damageAfter having defoliated a crop they migrate in huge groups to other fields, thereby their common name

Hosts: %1$s

· Maize


The caterpillars feed on young seedlings or leaves. At later stages they also attack young cobs. They preferably eat leaf tips and margins and feed toward the midrib, giving the leaf a saw-like appearance. Wet, brown lines of frass can be observed near the feeding damage. Defoliation can occur when the population is high. Direct damage to cobs usually is negligible because the pest usually attacks upper plant parts only when the lower leaves have largely been consumed. After defoliating a crop, they migrate in large groups to other fields, thereby their common name. The caterpillars feed on young seedlings or leaves. At later stages they might attack young cobs. Alternative hosts such as grasses can also favor their spread.


Adult moths are light to reddish brown with a wingspan of 4-5 cm and thoracic hair. Their forewings are grayish yellow and scattered with black specks. They have two small clear spots with an indistinct edge in the center. Their hindwings are bluish gray with dark veins and dark external margins. Adults are nocturnal and strongly attracted to light. Females lay pale, creamy eggs under the leaves. They survive better and produce more eggs when temperatures are above 15°C. Caterpillars are stout and usually pale greenish to brown in color. They have longitudinal stripes running along the body with the ones on the flanks being broken into black spots. They are nocturnal and thrive in well fertilized fields. Favorable conditions for an outbreak include prolonged dry periods followed by heavy rainfall.

Biological Control

Braconid wasp Apanteles ruficrus and tachinid flies Exorista civilis parasitize on the larvae and can successfully reduce pest population and the incidence of the disease. Spinosad has also been used effectively in baits to kill the adults. Another biological control measure are the pathogenic fungi Beauveria bassiana and Isaria fumosorosea. They colonize and kill the larvae.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments if available. Pesticides should be applied only if the infestation is severe. Cypermethrin can be sprayed against the larvae, preferably later in the day. Whorl application of carbofuran 3G at 25 - 30 days after germination also effectively helps to control the armyworm populations. Poison baits containing chlorpyriphos or profenofos can also be used.

Preventive Measures

    Adjust the time of sowing to avoid peak populationsCheck your plants regularly for any sign of the pestHandpick the larvae found in plantsUse light or pheromone traps to monitor infestationsControl weeds in and around the fieldsDig trenches around infested plots to control the movements of the larvaeFlood the seedbeds to drown the larvaeRemove crop residues from the field and burn them


Regional Weather

Get detailed forecast and actual weather data.

Plantix offers detailed weather information on the following issues:



Air Pressure


Wind speed

Plantix Community

Get in touch with experts around the world.

Post your questions

You can post your questions and pictures and get feedback from other farmers or gardeners. Plantix' experts will answer your questions related to plant diseases and pests.


Exchange with Plantix users around you, in your language and related to the crops you grow.

Global Community

Connect to farmers, gardeners, experts and interested people around the world that discuss plant diseases, remedies and best practice for sustainable farming.

AI-Driven Disease Detection

Instant diagnostics and solutions based on your picture

Image Recognition

Plantix analyzes your picture within a few seconds and gives you instant feedback on your plant problem.

Customized Management Options

On top of the detection result, Plantix offers you a detailed description of possible solutions - both biological and conventional.

Preventive measures

Plantix offers information on preventive measures to protect your crop from the next attack.