Don Herbison-Evans (
(Photo: courtesy of Merlin Crossley)
This Caterpillar is an agricultural pest feeding on the foliage of many crops and garden flowers, including :
However, it does not seem to develop resistance to insecticides like its cousin Helicoverpa armigera does.
This Caterpillar is initially pale green, often with black dots and a pattern of thin dark lines running along the body, the lines are darker around the second and third segments.
In later instars , dark lines become less conspicuous, and the black spots develop red areas around them. The Caterpillar has a characteristic posture when disturbed: it lifts its head and curls it under the front of the body. If even more disturbed, it lets go and drops, rolling into a spiral.
When fully grown (4 cms.) it pupates in a cocoon under the soil. After about three weeks the adult emerges.
The adult moth has brown forewings with a delicate darker tracery. The hind wings are buff with a dark border.
Underneath, it has dark subterminal bands on each wing, and a black comma and a black dot on each fore wing. The moth has a wingspan of about 4 cms.
The adult moths look very similar to those of the related species in the same genus : Helicoverpa armigera. However, for Helicoverpa punctigera
The moth migrates over large areas of the country, and is found, for example, in:
The migrations makes control difficult. The chemical identities of the sex attractant compounds for this moth (pheromones) have been elucidated. Attempts to control the species include :
Note that this is a different species from Heliothis punctifera.
Further reading :
Ian F.B. Common,
Moths of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1990, fig. 50.9, pp. 31, 43-44, 58, 64, 468.
Pat and Mike Coupar,
Flying Colours, New South Wales University Press, Sydney 1992, p. 72.
Heliothine Moths of Australia: A Guide to Pest Bollworms and Related Noctuid Groups, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne 1999.
Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards,
A Guide to Australian Moths, CSIRO Publishing, 2007, pp. 167, 194, 198.
(updated 15 April 2013)