Tobacco Cutworm


Tobacco Cutworm

Spodoptera litura


In a Nutshell

    Larvae feed voraciously on the leaves and bore into pods and damage themExtensive larval feeding leads to considerable damage and defoliation

Hosts: %1$s

· Gram · Cotton · Soybean · Peanut


Freshly hatched larvae feed gregariously on leaves, scraping the leaf tissue and completely stripping the plant. Older larvae disperse and feed voraciously on foliage at night. During the day, they usually hide in the soil around the base of the plants. In lighter soils, the larvae can reach the groundnut pods and damage them. Due to extensive feeding, only petioles and branches are left behind. Larvae and adults thrive at temperatures between 15 and 35°C . However, they favor higher temperatures within this range.


Adult moths have greyish brown bodies and variegated forewings with white wavy markings on the edges. The hindwings are translucent white with brown lines along the margins and the veins. Females lay hundred of eggs in clusters on the upper leaf blades, covered with golden brown scales. After hatching, the hairless light-green larvae disperse quickly and start feeding gregariously on leaves. Older larvae are dark green to brown with dark spots on the flanks and somewhat clearer bellies. Two yellow longitudinal bands run along the sides, interrupted by black triangular spots. An orange band runs dorsally between these spots. Larvae feed during the night and take refuge in the soil during the day.

Biological Control

Parasitoid wasps of the species Trichogramma chilonis, Telenomus remus or Apanteles africanus feed on eggs or larvae. Bioinsecticides based on Nuclear Polyhedrosis Virus (NPV) or Bacillus thuringiensis also work fine. Alternatively, the insect pathogenic fungi Nomuraea rileyi and Serratia marcescens can be sprayed on leaves. Bait solutions based on rice bran, molasses or brown sugar can be distributed on the soil in the evening hours. Plant oil extracts of neem leaves or kernels and extracts of Pongamia glabra seeds are highly effective against Spodoptera litura larvae on groundnut leaves.

Chemical Control

Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatment if available. Extensive insecticide use can lead to resistance in the pest. Azadirachtin, imidacloprid or Quinalphos can be used during the egg stage and prevents the larvae from hatching. To control the young larvae carbaryl, quinalphos, dichlorvos or diflubenzuron could be used. Baits solution based on carbaryl also effectively reduces populations.

Preventive Measures

    Check for tolerant varieties in your marketSow early to avoid peaks in insect populationsIrrigate regularly to avoid prolonged mid season droughtPlant trap crops like sunflower, taro and castor oil plant around and within fieldsUse light or pheromone traps to attract the mothsCheck your fields for signs of the disease such as egg masses, feeding damage or the presence of larvaeCollect egg masses and larvae from trap plants and host plants and destroy themRemove weeds 15-20 days after sowingHandle your plants carefully during cultivation and avoid plant damage and injuriesTake care of the hygiene of your tools and equipmentPlow deep to expose Spodoptera pupae to natural enemies and weather-related factors


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