NOCTUIDAE - Helicoverpa
Larval diagnosis (Detailed)
Species identification of late instar larval Heliothinae can be found in the Heliothinae and H. armigera keys (below) and on the fact sheets
for H. zea and H. armigera.
Examples are given when identification to species, genus, or only subfamily is appropriate. This discussion focuses on identification of the early instars
Helicoverpa larvae change color and form during development (Hardwick 1965). Early instars, as shown on the fact sheet for H. armigera, have dark
pinacula and a faint or absent pattern of stripes or lines. Later instars develop the color pattern typical of the genus. Besides H. armigera, another
good example of this developmental change is in H. assulta; the early instar is pictured
here in PaDIL (click for link). Li et al. (2013)
illustrated the mature larva.
According to Neunzig (1969), based on H. zea, the pinacula and microspine character for recognizing Helicoverpa works only on the third to last
instar. It cannot be used on early instars. Like the later instars, early instars of Helicoverpa never have a large retinaculum.
It is easy to confuse early instar larvae of Helicoverpa with those noctuids that have a spiny or finely granular cuticle. Heliothinae do
not have stout setae with a blunt tip or faint club as is common in many Herminiinae (see illustrations in Wagner et al. 2011).
Identification authority (Detailed)
Identification of Helicoverpa in the early instars is sometimes justified. Below are a few of some of these situations (not a complete list):
1. The host or origin suggests that only one species present in the pathway and the larva is consistent with the Helicoverpa early instar description.
An example would be H. zea in corn ears from Mexico and Central America.
2. The origin can rule out sibling species. For example, Hawaii has several Helicoverpa species but only C. virescens. The keys to first, second
and third, and third to last instars in Neunzig (1969) could be used to separate H. zea (and the native Helicoverpa species more than likely) from
3. The larva is clearly a middle instar Helicoverpa, but poorly known rare species prevent recognition of the common pests forcing only a generic
identification. Helicoverpa sugii has a restricted distribution in Japan and an unknown host range (Yoshimatsu and Takeuchi 2004). Species
identification of Helicoverpa in Australia by morphology is difficult to impossible.
Do not identify a larva as Helicoverpa if a large retinaculum is present, the dorsal pinacula have microspines near the top of the setal base,
or the body setae are stout with a faint club or blunt tip. Helicoverpa fletcheri from Africa is an exception.
The vast majority of early instar Heliothinae are best left at subfamily with the notation that the larvae are too young to name with
NOTE: Due to the continuing spread of H. armigera in South America, exercise caution when attempting identifications from that continent. There are no morphological
characters to separate the larvae of H. armigera from H. zea. When in doubt, default to "Helicoverpa sp." instead of attempting a species-level ID. The following
keys may not reflect the most recent H. armigera distribution in South America.
NOCTUIDAE - Helicoverpa
Helicoverpa have been intercepted from the following locations:
Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Austria, Azores, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada (?),
Cape Verde, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote D'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt,
El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia,
Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Laos, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macao, Macedonia, Malaysia, Mali,
Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway (?), Pakistan, Palestinian Territory, Peru,
Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Serbia and Montenegro, Singapore,
South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia,
Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and N. Ireland, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Helicoverpa have been intercepted on the following hosts:
Abelmoschus esculentus, Abelmoschus sp., Achillea sp., Aconitum sp., Agapanthus sp., Ageratum sp.,
Alcea rosea, Alchemilla mollis, Alchemilla sp., Allium porrum, Allium schoenoprasum, Allium sp., Alstroemeria sp.,
Amaranthus sp., Ammi majus, Ammi sp., Ananas comosus, Anemone coronaria, Anemone nemorosa, Anemone sp.,
Anethum graveolens, Anigozanthus sp., Annona sp., Anthemis sp., Anthriscus cerefolium, Antirrhinum sp.,
Apium graveolens, Artemisia dracunculus, Artemisia sp., Asclepias sp., Asclepias tuberosa, Asparagus officinalis, Aster sp.,
Astilbe sp., Astrantia sp., Berzelia sp., Bouvardia sp., Brassica sp., Brunia albiflora, Bupleurum griffithii,
Bupleurum sp., Cajanus cajan, Calendula sp., Calla sp., Campanula glomerata, Campanula sp., Capsicum annuum,
Capsicum pubescens, Capsicum sp., Carthamus sp., Celosia argentea, Celosia sp., Cestrum sp.,
Chamelaucium sp., Chenopodiaceae, Chenopodium sp., Chichorium sp., Chrysanthemum sp., Cicer arietinum, Cicer sp.,
Cichorium intybus, Cichorium sp., Citrus hystrix, Clematis sp., Colocasia esculenta, Corchorus sp., Coriandrum sativum,
Coridothymus capitatus, Crossandra sp., Crotalaria sp., Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita sp., Cucurbitaceae, Cymbidium sp.,
Cynara sp., Dahlia sp., Delphinium sp., Dendranthema sp., Dendrobium sp., Dianthus caryophyllus, Dianthus sp.,
Diascia sp., Dimocarpus sp., Dolichos sp., Echinacea sp., Eremurus sp., Ergngium sp., Erica sp., Eruca sativa,
Eruca vesicaria, Eryngium sp., Euphorbia sp., Eustoma grandiflorum, Eustoma sp., Fabaceae, Fragaria sp.,
Gardenia jasminoides, Gardenia sp., Genista sp., Gentiana sp., Gerbera sp., Gladiolus sp., Glycine max,
Gomphrena globosa, Gomphrena sp., Gravilea sp., Grevillea sp., Gypsophila sp., Helianthus annuus, Helianthus sp.,
Helleborus sp., Hibiscus sp., Hydrangea sp., Hypericum sp., Ixora sp., Jasminum sambac, Jasminum sp.,
Lablab purpureus, Lablab sp., Lactuca sativa, Lavandula sp., Leucadendron platyspermum, Leucadendron sp.,
Leucospermum cordifolium, Leucospermum sp., Liatris sp., Lilium sp., Limonium perezii, Limonium sp., Lippia sp.,
Lisianthus sp., Lycopersicon esculentum, Lycopersicon sp., Lysimachia sp., Marjorana hortensis, Matricaria sp.,
Mentha arvensis, Mentha longifolia, Mentha sp., Mentha spicata, Moluccella sp., Momordica balsamina, Monstera sp.,
Musa sp., Nasturtium sp., Nelumbium sp., Nelumbo nucifera, Nerine sp., Nigella sp., Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum sp.,
Oncidium sp., Orchidaceae, Origanum majorana, Origanum sp., Origanum vulgare, Ornithogalum arabicum, Ornithogalum orabiaum,
Ornithogalum sp., Oryza sativa, Paeonia sp., Papaver sp., Paullinia sp., Persea americana, Petroselinum crispum, Petunia sp.,
Phaseolus sp., Phaseolus vulgaris, Phlox sp., Photinia sp., Physalis ixocarpa, Physalis philadelphica, Physalis sp.,
Pieris sp., Pisum sativum, Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon, Pisum sp., Pittosporum sp., Plectranthus sp., Poaceae,
Polianthes tuberosa, Polyanthus sp., Protea sp., Prunus sp., Psidium guajava, Ranunculaceae, Ranunculus asiaticus, Ranunculus sp.,
Raphanus sativus, Rosa sp., Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosmarinus sp., Rudbeckia sp., Rumex acetosa, Salvia officinalis,
Salvia sp., Sarcocaulon sp., Satureja hortensis, Scabiosa sp., Sedum sp., Serruria sp., Setaria italica, Solanaceae,
Solanum aethiopicum, Solanum lycopersicum var lycopersicum, Solanum melongena, Solanum sp., Solidago sp., Symphoricarpos sp.,
Syringa sp., Tagetes erecta, Tagetes sp., Thymus citriodorus, Thymus sp., Thymus vulgaris, Trachelium sp.,
Tulipa sp., Veronica longifolia, Veronica sp., Veronica spicata, Verticordia sp., Viburnum sp., Vicia faba,
Zantedeschia sp., Zea mays, Zea sp.