Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Heliothis virescens
(tobacco budworm)



Heliothis virescens (tobacco budworm)


  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Heliothis virescens
  • Preferred Common Name
  • tobacco budworm
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta

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H. virescens larva, when fully grown 35-42 mm long.
TitleLarva in cotton boll
CaptionH. virescens larva, when fully grown 35-42 mm long.
H. virescens larva, when fully grown 35-42 mm long.
Larva in cotton bollH. virescens larva, when fully grown 35-42 mm long.©AgrEvo


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Heliothis virescens (Fabricius, 1777)

Preferred Common Name

  • tobacco budworm

Other Scientific Names

  • Chloridea rhexiae (J.E. Smith)
  • Chloridea virescens (Fabricius)
  • Helicoverpa virescens
  • Heliothis rhexiae (J.E. Smith)
  • Heliothis spectanda Strecker
  • Noctua virescens Fabricius
  • Xanthia prasina Walker
  • Xanthia viridescens Walker

International Common Names

  • English: budworm, tobacco; budworm, tomato; flaxworm; pigeonpea pod borer; tomato budworm
  • Spanish: bellotero de tabaco; bolillera; gusano bellotero; gusano de la panoja; gusano de la yema del tabaco; gusano de las cápsulas; gusano del brote; oruga del brote del tabaco; perforador de la capsula
  • French: noctuelle verdoyante; phalene verdoyante

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: oruga capullera
  • Brazil: lagarta da maca do algodao; lagarta da maca do algodoeiro
  • Germany: Eule, Amerikanische Tabakknospen-; Eule, Baumwoll-
  • Italy: elotide del tabacco
  • Turkey: tutun kapsul kurdu

EPPO code

  • HELIVI (Heliothis virescens)

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Noctuidae
  •                             Genus: Heliothis
  •                                 Species: Heliothis virescens

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

North America

Antigua and BarbudaPresent
Cayman IslandsPresent
Costa RicaPresent
Dominican RepublicPresent
El SalvadorPresent
Puerto RicoPresent
Saint Kitts and NevisPresent
Saint LuciaPresent
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent
Trinidad and TobagoPresent
U.S. Virgin IslandsPresent
United StatesPresentOriginal citation: CIE, 1974
-New YorkPresent
-North CarolinaPresent
-North DakotaPresent
-South CarolinaPresent

South America

-Espirito SantoPresent
-Mato GrossoPresent
-Mato Grosso do SulPresent
-Minas GeraisPresent
-Rio de JaneiroPresent
-Rio Grande do SulPresent
-Sao PauloPresent
-Galapagos IslandsPresent
French GuianaPresent

Growth Stages

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Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / frass visible
Fruit / internal feeding
Inflorescence / dieback
Inflorescence / frass visible
Inflorescence / internal feeding
Leaves / external feeding
Seeds / internal feeding

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Alopecosa helluo Predator
Archytas marmoratus Parasite Arthropods|Larvae; Arthropods|Pupae
Bacillus thuringiensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis alesti Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis entomocidus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae Arkansas
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. dendrolimus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Baculovirus heliothis Pathogen cotton
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Brachymeria ovata Parasite Arthropods|Pupae
Bracon thurberiphagae Parasite Trinidad and Tobago
Campoletis flavicincta Parasite
Campoletis sonorensis Parasite Texas
Cardiochiles nigricens Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cardiochiles nigriceps Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cardiochiles seminiger Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Chelonus curvimaculatus Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Chelonus insularis Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Chrysoperla carnea Predator
Chrysoperla rufilabris Predator
Coleomegilla maculata Predator Eggs USA; Mississippi cotton
Collops quadrimaculatus Predator
Cotesia congregata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cotesia kazak Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cotesia marginiventris Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cyrtopeltis luridus Predator
Cyrtopeltis luridus Predator
cytoplasmic polyhedrosis viruses Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Deraeocoris nebulosus Predator
Diapetimorpha introita Parasite
Entomophaga aulicae Pathogen
Erythemis simplicicollis Predator
Eucelatoria bryani Parasite Arthropods|Larvae Honduras sorghum
Eucelatoria rubentis Parasite
Furia virescens Pathogen
Geocoris punctipes Predator USA; Mississippi cotton
Glabromicroplitis croceipes Parasite
Glabromicroplitis croceipes Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Helicoverpa armigera nuclear polyhedrosis virus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Heliothis nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen
Hippodamia convergens Predator USA; Mississippi cotton
Hyposoter didymator Parasite
Hyposoter exiguae Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Jalysus spinosus Predator
Lespesia archippivora Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Lycosa antelucana Predator
Lygus lineolaris Predator
Metaphidippus galathea Predator
Meteorus autographae Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Microchelonus blackburni Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Microplitis demolitor Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Microplitis rufiventris Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Nabis capsiformis Predator USA; Mississippi cotton
Nabis roseipennis Predator
Nemorilla pyste Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Nomuraea rileyi Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
nonoccluded viruses Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Notoxus monodon Predator
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen
Orius insidiosus Predator
Paratriphleps laeviusculus Predator
Pardosa milvina Predator
Podisus maculiventris Predator
Podisus sagitta Predator
Polistes arizonensis Predator
Polistes cubensis Predator
Pristomerus spinator Parasite Arthropods|Larvae; Arthropods|Pupae
Rogas perplexus Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Serratia marcescens Pathogen
Sinea confusa Predator
Spilochalcis hirtifemora Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite
Telenomus heliothidis Parasite
Telenomus spodopterae Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma exiguum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma galloi Parasite
Trichogramma marthae Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma marylandense Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma minutum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma nubilale Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma parkeri Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma perkinsi Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma pretiosum Parasite Eggs Texas
Trichogramma retorridum Parasite Eggs
Trichogrammatoidea armigera Parasite Eggs Barbados pigeon peas
Vairimorpha necatrix Pathogen
Vairimorpha plodiae Pathogen
Vespula maculifrons Predator
Vespula squamosa Predator
virus-like particles
Winthemia rufiventris Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Zelus renardii Predator


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Butler GD Jr, Wilson LT, Henneberry TJ, 1985. Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): initiation of summer diapause. Journal of Economic Entomology, 78(2):320-324

Carshatt ED, 1964. Factors influencing color variation of larvae of the tobacco budworm, Heliothis virescens (Fab.). MS. Thesis. Raleigh, USA: North Carolina State University

Carter R, Clower J, Young R, Lambert H, 1997. Transgenic Bt cotton - consultants' views & observations. 1997 Proceedings Beltwide Cotton Conferences, New Orleans, LA, USA, January 6-10, 1997: Volume 2., 874-875

Common IFB, 1953. The Australian species of Heliothis (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) and their pest status. Australian Journal of Zoology, 1(3):319-344

Common IFB, 1985. A new Australian species of Heliothis Ochsenheimer (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society, 24(2):129-133

Daly JC, McKenzie JA, 1986. Resistance management strategies in Australia: the Heliothis and 'Wormkill' programmes. 1986 British Crop Protection Conference. Pests and diseases. Proceedings of a conference held at Brighton Metropole, England, November 17-20, 1986. Vol. 3., 951-959; 21 ref

Drake VA, Fitt GP, 1990. Studies of Heliothis mobility at Narrabri, summer 1989/90. Proceedings of the Fifth Asutralian Cotton Conference. Brisbane, Australia: Australian Cotton Growers' Research Association, 295-304

Ellington JJ, El-Sokkari A, 1986. A measure of the fecundity, ovipositional behavior, and mortality of the bollworm, Heliothis zea (Boddie) in the laboratory. Southwestern Entomologist, 11(3):177-193

Fitt GP, 1989. The ecology of Heliothis species in relation to agroecosystems. Annual Review of Entomology, 34:17-52

Fitt GP, 1991. Host selection in the Heliothinae. In: Bailey WJ, Ridsdill-Smith TJ, eds. Reproductive Behaviour in Insects - Individuals and Populations. London, UK: Chapman & Hall, 172-201

Hardee DD, Bryan WW, 1997. Influence of Bacillus thuringiensis-transgenic and nectariless cotton on insect populations with emphasis on the tarnished plant bug (Heteroptera: Miridae). Journal of Economic Entomology, 90(2):663-668; 35 ref

Hardwick DF, 1965. The corn earworm complex. Memoirs of the Entomological Society of Canada, 40:1-247

Henneberry TJ, Clayton TE, 1991. Tobacco budworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): temperature effects on mating, oviposition, egg viability, and moth longevity. Journal of Economic Entomology, 84(4):1242-1246

Jackson DM, Severson RF, Johnson AW, Chaplin JF, Stephenson MG, 1984. Ovipositional response of tobacco budworm moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) to cuticular chemical isolates from green tobacco leaves. Environmental Entomology, 13(4):1023-1030

King EG, Jackson RD, eds, 1989. Proceedings of the Workshop on Biological Control of Heliothis: Increasing the Effectiveness of Natural Enemies November 1985, New Delhi. New Delhi, India: Far Eastern Regional Research Office, US Department of Agriculture

Kirkpatrick TH, 1961. Comparative morphological studies of Heliothis species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Queensland. Queensland Journal of Agricultural Science, 18:179-194

Klun JA, Plimmer JR, Bierl-Leonhardt BA, Sparks AN, Chapman OL, 1979. Trace chemicals: the essence of sexual communication systems in Heliothis species. Science, 204:1328-1330

Landolt PJ, 2008. New geographic records for tobacco bud worm, Heliothis virescens (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in the Pacific Northwest. Pan-Pacific Entomologist, 84(3):246-248

Layton MB, Williams MR, Stewart S, 1997. BT-cotton in Mississippi: the first year. 1997 Proceedings Beltwide Cotton Conferences, New Orleans, LA, USA, January 6-10, 1997: Volume 2., 861-863; 13 ref

Lopez JD, Shaver TN, Dickerson WA, 1990. Population monitoring of Heliothis spp. using pheromones. In: Ridgeway RL, Silverstein RM, Inscoe MN, eds. Behaviour modifying chemicals for insect management: applications of pheromones and other attractants. New York, USA: Marcel Dekker, 473-496

Matthews M, 1991. Classification of the Heliothinae. NRI Bulletin No. 44. Chatham, Kent: Natural Resources Institute

Matthews M, 1999. Heliothine moths of Australia. A guide to pest bollworms and related noctuid groups. Heliothine moths of Australia. A guide to pest bollworms and related noctuid groups., 320 pp.; [^italic~Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera. Volume 7.^roman~]; 10 pp. of ref

Metcalf CL, Flint WP, Metcalf RL, 1962. Destructive and useful insects. 4th ed. New York, USA: McGraw-Hill

Ng SenSeong, Cibulsky RJ, Trowell SC, 1998. LepTon HTK - a heliothine diagnostic test kit: an update. 1998 Proceedings Beltwide Cotton Conferences, San Diego, California, USA, 5-9 January 1998. Volume 2., 1040-1043; 2 ref

Pearson AC, Sevacherian V, Ballmer GR, Vail PV, Henneberry TJ, 1989. Population dynamics of Heliothis virescens and H. zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in the Imperial Valley of California. Environmental Entomology, 18(6):970-979

Poole RW, Mitter C, Huettel M, 1993. A revision and cladistic analysis of the Heliothis virescens species-group (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with a preliminary morphometric analysis of Heliothis virescens. Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Technical Bulletin, 185:1-51

Reed W, Pawar CS, 1982. Heliothis: a global problem. In: Reed W, Kumble V, ed. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Heliothis Management. ICRISAT Center, Patancheru, India, 15-20 November 1981 International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh India, 9-14

Schotman CYL, 1989. Plant pests of quarantine importance to the Caribbean. RLAC-PROVEG, No. 21:80 pp

Stadelbacher EA, Graham HM, Harris VE, Lopez JD, Phillips JR, Roach SH, 1986. Heliothis populations and wild host plants in the southern U.S. In: Johnson SJ, King EG, Bradley JR, eds. Theory and Tactics of Heliothis Population management:1 -Cultural and Biological Control. Southernn Cooperative Science Bulletin, 316:54-74

UK CAB International, 1967. Heliothis virescens. [Distribution map]. Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, December. Wallingford, UK: CAB International, Map 238

Ventura MU, Roberto SR, Hoshino AT, Carvalho MG, Hata FT, Genta W, 2015. First record of Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) damaging table grape bunches. Florida Entomologist, 98(2):783-786.

Widmer MW, Schofield P, 1983. Heliothis dispersal and migration. Heliothis dispersal and migration. London, UK: Tropical Development and Research Institute

Willers JL, Schneider JC, Ramaswamy SB, 1987. Fecundity, longevity and caloric patterns in female Heliothis virescens: changes with age due to flight and supplemental carbohydrate. Journal of Insect Physiology, 33(11):803-808

Distribution References

CABI, Undated. Compendium record. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Hardee D D, Bryan W W, 1997. Influence of Bacillus thuringiensis-transgenic and nectariless cotton on insect populations with emphasis on the tarnished plant bug (Heteroptera: Miridae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 90 (2), 663-668. DOI:10.1093/jee/90.2.663

Landolt P J, 2008. New geographic records for tobacco bud worm, Heliothis virescens (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), in the Pacific Northwest. Pan-Pacific Entomologist. 84 (3), 246-248. DOI:10.3956/2008-01.1

Poole RW, Mitter C, Huettel M, 1993. A revision and cladistic analysis of the Heliothis virescens species-group (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) with a preliminary morphometric analysis of Heliothis virescens. In: Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Technical Bulletin, 185 1-51.

UK, CAB International, 1967. Heliothis virescens. [Distribution map]. In: Distribution Maps of Plant Pests, Wallingford, UK: CAB International. Map 238. DOI:10.1079/DMPP/20056600238

Ventura M U, Roberto S R, Hoshino A T, Carvalho M G, Hata F T, Genta W, 2015. First record of Heliothis virescens (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) damaging table grape bunches. Florida Entomologist. 98 (2), 783-786. DOI:10.1653/024.098.0259

Distribution Maps

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