Greenish eggs lie in clusters on the underside of leaves, covered with whitish scales from the moth's' body. The larvae are nocturnal feeders and are usually found on the lower surface of leaves. They feed on leaf tissue, sparing the hard parts from the veins, resulting in a skeleton-like leaf structure. If there is a lack of food, they can bore into tender stems and pods, in extreme cases resulting in complete defoliation of the plant.
Adults moths are grey-brown with marked brown forewings and white translucent hindwings. Larvae are initially black green with scattered dark spots and a uniform reddish brown head. They bear a white line dorsally and white stripes along the flanks that become more salient with time. At later larval stages, their skin become darker, two rows of black triangles appear along their back and a dark ring on the first segment. Temperatures of 20-25°C are optimum for development, at over 30°C their life cycle is retarded.
To reduce infestation, promote natural antagonists. For example parasitoid wasps like Cotesia marginiventris, Chelonus insularis,Meteorus autographae, M. laphygmae or Campoletis flavicincta. Other beneficial insects include lacewings and ladybirds. Some birds also feed on adult moths. You can also try infecting the larvae with the fungus Beauveria bassiana.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatment if available. Use foliar insecticides to control the southern armyworm while the worm is in an early stage. Insecticides vary considerably in their toxicity to larvae. Chemicals of the group of the acelepryn and synthetic pyrethroids have been used against this pest
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