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Datasheet

Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 11 October 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Spodoptera frugiperda
  • Preferred Common Name
  • fall armyworm
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is a Lepidpopteran pest that feeds in large numbers on leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to economically important cultivated grasses such as ma...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult male. Museum set specimen. Links to Spodoptera ID: http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_Wings_2013.pdf - http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_genitalia.pdf
TitleAdult
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult male. Museum set specimen. Links to Spodoptera ID: http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_Wings_2013.pdf - http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_genitalia.pdf
Copyright©Lyle J. Buss/University of Florida/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult male. Museum set specimen. Links to Spodoptera ID: http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_Wings_2013.pdf - http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_genitalia.pdf
AdultSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult male. Museum set specimen. Links to Spodoptera ID: http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_Wings_2013.pdf - http://www.invasive.org/publications/aphis/Handout_Spodoptera_genitalia.pdf©Lyle J. Buss/University of Florida/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult at rest, lateral view. Laboratory image. USA.
TitleAdult
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult at rest, lateral view. Laboratory image. USA.
Copyright©Mark Dreiling/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult at rest, lateral view. Laboratory image. USA.
AdultSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); adult at rest, lateral view. Laboratory image. USA.©Mark Dreiling/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); egg mass on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum).
TitleEgg mass
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); egg mass on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum).
Copyright©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); egg mass on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum).
Egg massSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); egg mass on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum).©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on maize cob. The larvae, which are marked with a distinct inverted "Y" on the front of the head, feed on a wide variety of plants, and are a particular problem in fall seeded alfalfa and wheat.  Milo, sweet corn, and field corn also are important hosts. Laboratory image. USA.
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on maize cob. The larvae, which are marked with a distinct inverted "Y" on the front of the head, feed on a wide variety of plants, and are a particular problem in fall seeded alfalfa and wheat. Milo, sweet corn, and field corn also are important hosts. Laboratory image. USA.
Copyright©Phil Sloderbeck/Kansas State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on maize cob. The larvae, which are marked with a distinct inverted "Y" on the front of the head, feed on a wide variety of plants, and are a particular problem in fall seeded alfalfa and wheat.  Milo, sweet corn, and field corn also are important hosts. Laboratory image. USA.
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on maize cob. The larvae, which are marked with a distinct inverted "Y" on the front of the head, feed on a wide variety of plants, and are a particular problem in fall seeded alfalfa and wheat. Milo, sweet corn, and field corn also are important hosts. Laboratory image. USA.©Phil Sloderbeck/Kansas State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage in whorl of maize (Zea mays).
TitleLarval damage
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage in whorl of maize (Zea mays).
Copyright©University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage in whorl of maize (Zea mays).
Larval damageSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage in whorl of maize (Zea mays).©University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on maize (Zea mays).
TitleLarval damage
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on maize (Zea mays).
Copyright©University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on maize (Zea mays).
Larval damageSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on maize (Zea mays).©University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).
Copyright©Clemson University/USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon).©Clemson University/USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on hay grass. USA. August 2006.
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on hay grass. USA. August 2006.
Copyright©Chazz Hesselein/Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on hay grass. USA. August 2006.
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on hay grass. USA. August 2006.©Chazz Hesselein/Alabama Cooperative Extension System/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
Copyright©Alton N. Sparks, Jr./University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum).©Alton N. Sparks, Jr./University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). USA.
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). USA.
Copyright©Russ Ottens/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). USA.
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum). USA.©Russ Ottens/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). USA.
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). USA.
Copyright©Russ Ottens/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). USA.
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva, on cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). USA.©Russ Ottens/University of Georgia/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); early instar larvae (arrowed), and damage on cotton boll bract  (Gossypium hirsutum).
TitleLarvae
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); early instar larvae (arrowed), and damage on cotton boll bract (Gossypium hirsutum).
Copyright©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); early instar larvae (arrowed), and damage on cotton boll bract  (Gossypium hirsutum).
LarvaeSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); early instar larvae (arrowed), and damage on cotton boll bract (Gossypium hirsutum).©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); severe larval damage on cotton boll (Gossypium hirsutum).
TitleLarval damage
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); severe larval damage on cotton boll (Gossypium hirsutum).
Copyright©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); severe larval damage on cotton boll (Gossypium hirsutum).
Larval damageSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); severe larval damage on cotton boll (Gossypium hirsutum).©Ronald Smith/Auburn University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on sorghum (Sorghum bicolor).
TitleLarval damage
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on sorghum (Sorghum bicolor).
Copyright©Clemson University/USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on sorghum (Sorghum bicolor).
Larval damageSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval damage on sorghum (Sorghum bicolor).©Clemson University/USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva feeding on rice (Oryza sativa).
TitleLarva
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva feeding on rice (Oryza sativa).
Copyright©Natalie Hummel/Louisiana State University AgCenter/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva feeding on rice (Oryza sativa).
LarvaSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larva feeding on rice (Oryza sativa).©Natalie Hummel/Louisiana State University AgCenter/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval cannibalism. Honduras.
TitleLarval cannibalism
CaptionSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval cannibalism. Honduras.
Copyright©Frank Peairs/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US
Spodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval cannibalism. Honduras.
Larval cannibalismSpodoptera frugiperda (fall armyworm); larval cannibalism. Honduras.©Frank Peairs/Colorado State University/Bugwood.org - CC BY 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Spodoptera frugiperda J.E. Smith

Preferred Common Name

  • fall armyworm

Other Scientific Names

  • Caradrina frugiperda
  • Laphygma frugiperda Guenee, 1852
  • Laphygma inepta Walker, 1856
  • Laphygma macra Guenee, 1852
  • Noctua frugiperda J.E. Smith
  • Phalaena frugiperda Smith & Abbot, 1797
  • Prodenia autumnalis Riley, 1870
  • Prodenia plagiata Walker, 1856
  • Prodenia signifera Walker, 1856
  • Trigonophora frugiperda Geyer, 1832

International Common Names

  • English: alfalfa worm; armyworm, fall; buckworm; budworm; corn budworm; corn leafworm; cotton leaf worm; daggy's corn worm; grass caterpillar; grass worm; maize budworm; overflow worm; rice caterpillar; southern armyworm; southern grassworm; wheat cutworm; whorlworm
  • Spanish: cogollero del maíz; grillo cogollero; gusano cogollero; gusano cogollero del maíz; gusano de la hierba; oruga del cogollo del maíz; oruga militar; oruga militar del maíz; oruga negra; oruga peladora de los pastos; palomilla del maíz
  • French: légionnaire d'automne

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: isoca militar tardia
  • Brazil: curuquere dos capinzais; curuquere dos milharais; lagarta do cartucho do milho; lagarta militar
  • Germany: Heerwurm
  • Mexico: gusano cogollero del maiz

EPPO code

  • LAPHFR (Spodoptera frugiperda)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page

The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda is a Lepidpopteran pest that feeds in large numbers on leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to economically important cultivated grasses such as maize, rice, sorghum, sugarcane but also other vegetable crops and cotton. It has been repeatedly interecepted at quarantine in Europe and was first reported from Africa in 2016 where it is causing significant damage to maize crops and has great potential for further spread and economic damage. In April 2017, in response to the continuing spread of fall armyworm in Africa, DFID and CABI rapidly published a summary of the pest's present and possible future distribution on the continent, also summarizing information on its impacts, and control measures 'Fall Armyworm Status. Impacts and control options in Africa: Preliminary Evidence Note (April 2017)'.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Description

Top of page Egg

Eggs are spherical (0.75 mm diameter); they are green at the time of oviposition and become light brown prior to eclosion. Egg maturity takes 2-3 days (20-30°C). Eggs are usually laid in masses of approximately 150-200 eggs which are laid in two to four layers deep on the surface of the leaf. The egg mass is usually covered with a protective, felt-like layer of grey-pink scales (setae) from the female abdomen. Up to 1000 eggs may be laid by each female.

Larva

Larvae are a light green to dark brown with longitudinal stripes. In the sixth instar, larvae are 3-4 cm long. Larvae have eight prolegs and a pair of prolegs on the last adbominal segment. On hatching they are green with black lines and spots, and as they grow they either remain green or become buff-brown and have black dorsal and spiracular lines. If crowded (by a high population density and food shortage) the final instar can be almost black in its armyworm phase. Large larvae are characterized by an inverted Y-shape in yellow on the head, black dorsal pinaculae with long primary setae (two each side of each segment within the pale dorsal zone) and four black spots arranged in a square on the last abdominal segment. There are usually six larval instars, occasionally five. A full description of the larvae is given in Crumb (1956). Levy and Habeck (1976) give diagnostic features, and colour plates are provided by King and Saunders (1984).

Pupa

Pupae are shorter than mature larvae (1.3-1.5 cm in males and 1.6-1.7 cm in females in Mexico), and are shiny brown.

Adult Male

Male body length is 1.6 cm and wingspan 3.7 cm. The forewing is mottled (light brown, grey, straw) with a discal cell containing straw colour on three quarters of the area and dark brown on one quarter of the area.

Adult Female

Female body length is 1.7 cm and wingspan 3.8 cm. The forewing is mottled (dark brown, grey). Hindwings are straw colour with a dark brown margin.

Distribution

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S. frugiperda is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. In 2016 it was reported for the first time from the African continent, in Nigeria, Sao Tomé, Benin and Togo  (IITA, 2016; IPPC, 2016). It has now been confirmed in 28 African countries (Abrahams et al., 2017).

More information on its presence in Africa in 2017 can be found here: https://twitter.com/CABI_Invasives/timelines/831799538025373696

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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Africa

BeninPresentIntroduced2016 Invasive IITA, 2016
Burkina FasoWidespreadIntroduced2017IPPC, 2017f
CameroonRestricted distributionIntroduced2017IPPC, 2017e; Abraham et al., 2017
ChadPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
CongoPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017; IPAPEL-FAO, 2017
EthiopiaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
GhanaPresentIntroduced2017 Invasive Abrahams et al., 2017; CABI, 2017; Cock et al., 2017
GuineaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
KenyaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017; Republic and of Kenya Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock & Fisheries, 2017
MalawiPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
MozambiquePresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
NamibiaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
NigerPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
NigeriaPresentIntroduced2016 Invasive IITA, 2016; Abrahams et al., 2017First reported in Jan. 2016 in the southwest, within a few months, also in northern Nigeria, Edo and additional southwest areas
RwandaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
Sao Tome and PrincipeWidespreadIntroduced2016 Invasive IPPC, 2016; Abrahams et al., 2017
South AfricaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
SudanPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017South Sudan
SwazilandRestricted distributionIntroduced2017 Invasive IPPC, 2017b; Abrahams et al., 2017
TanzaniaPresentIntroduced2017Abrahams et al., 2017
TogoPresentIITA, 2016; Abrahams et al., 2017
TogoPresentIntroduced2016 Invasive IITA, 2016; Abrahams et al., 2017Kara and Plateau regions
UgandaPresentAbrahams et al., 2017
ZambiaPresentIntroducedIPPC, 2017d; Abrahams et al., 2017Preliminary report. CABI barcoded specimens.
ZimbabwePresentIntroducedAbrahams et al., 2017; FAO, 2017

North America

BermudaPresentEPPO, 2014
CanadaRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
-ManitobaPresentEPPO, 2014
-New BrunswickPresentEPPO, 2014
-Nova ScotiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-OntarioPresentStarratt and McLeod, 1982; EPPO, 2014
-Prince Edward IslandPresentEPPO, 2014
-QuebecPresentMartel et al., 1980; EPPO, 2014
MexicoWidespreadSifuentes, 1978; EPPO, 2014
USAPresentGreathead and Greathead, 1992; EPPO, 2014
-AlabamaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ArizonaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ArkansasPresentEPPO, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ColoradoPresentEPPO, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentEPPO, 2014
-DelawarePresentEPPO, 2014
-FloridaPresentEPPO, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-IllinoisPresentEPPO, 2014
-IndianaPresentEPPO, 2014
-IowaPresentEPPO, 2014
-KansasPresentEPPO, 2014
-KentuckyPresentEPPO, 2014
-LouisianaPresentEPPO, 2014
-MainePresentEPPO, 2014
-MarylandPresentEPPO, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentEPPO, 2014
-MichiganPresentEPPO, 2014
-MinnesotaPresentEPPO, 2014
-MississippiPresentEPPO, 2014
-MissouriPresentEPPO, 2014
-MontanaPresentEPPO, 2014
-NebraskaPresentEPPO, 2014
-New HampshirePresentEPPO, 2014
-New JerseyPresentEPPO, 2014
-New MexicoPresentEPPO, 2014
-New YorkPresentEPPO, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentEPPO, 2014
-North DakotaPresentEPPO, 2014
-OhioPresentEPPO, 2014
-OklahomaPresentEPPO, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Rhode IslandPresentEPPO, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentEPPO, 2014
-South DakotaPresentEPPO, 2014
-TennesseePresentEPPO, 2014
-TexasPresentEPPO, 2014
-VirginiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-West VirginiaPresentEPPO, 2014
-WisconsinPresentEPPO, 2014
-WyomingPresentEPPO, 2014

Central America and Caribbean

AnguillaPresentEPPO, 2014
Antigua and BarbudaPresentEPPO, 2014
BahamasPresentEPPO, 2014
BarbadosPresentEPPO, 2014
BelizePresentEPPO, 2014
British Virgin IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
Cayman IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014
Costa RicaPresentEPPO, 2014
CubaPresentEPPO, 2014
DominicaPresentEPPO, 2014
Dominican RepublicPresentEPPO, 2014
El SalvadorPresentEPPO, 2014
GrenadaPresentEPPO, 2014
GuadeloupePresentEPPO, 2014
GuatemalaPresentEPPO, 2014
HaitiPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
HondurasPresentEPPO, 2014
JamaicaPresentEPPO, 2014
MartiniqueWidespreadEPPO, 2014
MontserratPresentEPPO, 2014
NicaraguaPresentVan Huis, 1981; EPPO, 2014
PanamaPresentEPPO, 2014
Puerto RicoPresentEPPO, 2014
Saint Kitts and NevisPresentEPPO, 2014
Saint LuciaPresentEPPO, 2014
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentEPPO, 2014
Trinidad and TobagoWidespreadEPPO, 2014
United States Virgin IslandsPresentEPPO, 2014

South America

ArgentinaPresentEPPO, 2014
BoliviaPresentEPPO, 2014
BrazilPresentEPPO, 2014
-AmapaPresentEPPO, 2014
-BahiaPresentSoares and Silva, 2003
-CearaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Espirito SantoPresentPratissoli et al., 2007; EPPO, 2014
-GoiasPresentEPPO, 2014
-MaranhaoPresentEPPO, 2014
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentEPPO, 2014
-Minas GeraisPresentEPPO, 2014
-ParaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ParaibaPresentEPPO, 2014
-ParanaPresentEPPO, 2014
-PernambucoPresentEPPO, 2014
-Rio de JaneiroPresentEPPO, 2014
-Rio Grande do NortePresentSilva et al., 2000
-Rio Grande do SulPresentEPPO, 2014
-Santa CatarinaPresentEPPO, 2014
-Sao PauloPresentEPPO, 2014
-TocantinsPresentDidonet et al., 2001
ChileRestricted distributionEPPO, 2014
ColombiaPresentEPPO, 2014
EcuadorWidespreadEPPO, 2014
French GuianaPresentEPPO, 2014
GuyanaPresentRambajan, 1981; EPPO, 2014
ParaguayWidespreadEPPO, 2014
PeruPresentEPPO, 2014
SurinamePresentEPPO, 2014
UruguayWidespreadEPPO, 2014
VenezuelaPresentEPPO, 2014; Solano et al., 2015Western

Europe

GermanyPresent, few occurrencesEPPO, 2014
NetherlandsAbsent, confirmed by surveyNPPO of the Netherlands, 2013; EPPO, 2014Based on long-term annual surveys, 362 survey observations in 2012.

Risk of Introduction

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S. frugiperda is on the EPPO A1 list of quarantine pests and is intercepted occasionally in Europe on imported plant material (Seymour et al., 1985). Although the pathway(s) of introduction are as yet unidentified, its appearance in Africa in 2016 raises the level of threat to other African locations and tropical or subtropical regions of the world. 

Phytosanitary Measures

Plants for planting should come from a place of production inspected and found free from the pest during the previous months.

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page S. frugiperda is a polyphagous pest which shows a definite preference for the Poaceae. It is most commonly recorded from wild and cultivated grasses; from maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane.

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

Top of page
Plant nameFamilyContext
Agrostis (bentgrasses)PoaceaeWild host
Agrostis gigantea (black bent)PoaceaeOther
Alcea rosea (Hollyhock)MalvaceaeOther
AlliumLiliaceaeMain
Allium cepa (onion)LiliaceaeOther
Amaranthus (amaranth)AmaranthaceaeOther
Andropogon virginicus (broomsedge)PoaceaeWild host
Arachis hypogaea (groundnut)FabaceaeMain
Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)LiliaceaeOther
Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade)SolanaceaeWild host
Avena sativa (oats)PoaceaeOther
BetaChenopodiaceaeOther
Beta vulgaris (beetroot)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Beta vulgaris var. saccharifera (sugarbeet)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica oleracea var. viridis (collards)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica rapa subsp. rapa (turnip)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassicaceae (cruciferous crops)BrassicaceaeMain
Capsicum (peppers)SolanaceaeOther
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeMain
Carex (sedges)CyperaceaeWild host
Carya (hickories)JuglandaceaeOther
Carya illinoinensis (pecan)JuglandaceaeOther
Cenchrus incertus (Spiny burrgrass)PoaceaeWild host
Chenopodium album (fat hen)ChenopodiaceaeWild host
Chenopodium quinoa (quinoa)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Chloris gayana (rhodes grass)PoaceaeOther
Chrysanthemum (daisy)AsteraceaeOther
Chrysanthemum morifolium (chrysanthemum (florists'))AsteraceaeMain
Cicer arietinum (chickpea)FabaceaeOther
Citrullus lanatus (watermelon)CucurbitaceaeOther
Citrus aurantium (sour orange)RutaceaeOther
Citrus limon (lemon)RutaceaeOther
Citrus reticulata (mandarin)RutaceaeOther
Citrus sinensis (navel orange)RutaceaeOther
Codiaeum variegatum (croton)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Convolvulus (morning glory)ConvolvulaceaeWild host
Cucumis sativus (cucumber)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cucurbitaceae (cucurbits)CucurbitaceaeMain
Cyperus rotundus (purple nutsedge)CyperaceaeOther
Dahlia pinnata (garden dahlia)AsteraceaeOther
Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation)CaryophyllaceaeMain
Echinochloa colona (junglerice)PoaceaeOther
Eryngium foetidumApiaceaeOther
Fagopyrum esculentum (buckwheat)Other
Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)RosaceaeOther
Fragaria chiloensis (Chilean strawberry)RosaceaeOther
Gladiolus hybrids (sword lily)IridaceaeOther
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeMain
Gossypium (cotton)MalvaceaeMain
Gossypium herbaceum (short staple cotton)MalvaceaeOther
Hevea brasiliensis (rubber)EuphorbiaceaeOther
Hibiscus cannabinus (kenaf)MalvaceaeOther
Hordeum vulgare (barley)PoaceaeOther
Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato)ConvolvulaceaeMain
Ipomoea purpurea (tall morning glory)ConvolvulaceaeWild host
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeOther
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeOther
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeMain
Mucuna pruriens (velvet bean)FabaceaeOther
Musa (banana)MusaceaeMain
Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)SolanaceaeMain
Oryza sativa (rice)PoaceaeMain
Panicum miliaceum (millet)PoaceaeOther
Pelargonium (pelargoniums)GeraniaceaeMain
Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu grass)PoaceaeOther
Pennisetum glaucum (pearl millet)PoaceaeOther
Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeMain
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeMain
Phleum pratense (timothy grass)PoaceaeOther
Pisum sativum (pea)FabaceaeOther
Platanus occidentalis (sycamore)PlatanaceaeOther
Plumeria (frangipani)ApocynaceaeOther
Poa annua (annual meadowgrass)PoaceaeOther
Poa pratensis (smooth meadow-grass)PoaceaeOther
Poaceae (grasses)PoaceaeMain
Portulaca oleracea (purslane)PortulacaceaeOther
Prunus persica (peach)RosaceaeOther
Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)PoaceaeMain
Secale cereale (rye)PoaceaeOther
Setaria italica (foxtail millet)PoaceaeOther
Setaria viridis (green foxtail)PoaceaeOther
Solanum (nightshade)SolanaceaeWild host
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum melongena (aubergine)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum tuberosum (potato)SolanaceaeMain
Sorghum bicolor (sorghum)PoaceaeMain
Sorghum caffrorumPoaceaeOther
Sorghum halepense (Johnson grass)PoaceaeOther
Sorghum sudanense (Sudan grass)PoaceaeOther
Spinacia oleracea (spinach)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Trifolium (clovers)FabaceaeMain
Trifolium pratense (purple clover)FabaceaeOther
Trifolium repens (white clover)FabaceaeOther
Triticum aestivum (wheat)PoaceaeOther
turfgrassesOther
UrochloaPoaceaeWild host
Vaccinium corymbosum (blueberry)EricaceaeOther
Vigna unguiculata (cowpea)FabaceaeOther
Viola (violet)ViolaceaeOther
Vitis (grape)VitaceaeOther
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeOther
Xanthium strumarium (common cocklebur)AsteraceaeWild host
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain
Zea mays subsp. mays (sweetcorn)PoaceaeMain
Zea mays subsp. mexicana (teosinte)PoaceaeOther
Zingiber officinale (ginger)ZingiberaceaeMain

Growth Stages

Top of page Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top of page Seedlings are fed upon within the whorl. Larger larvae can cut the base of the plant. Mature plants suffer attack on reproductive structures. On tomato plants, buds and growing points may be eaten and fruits pierced. Maize leaves are eaten and the whorl (funnel) may be a mass of holes, ragged edges and larval frass. Young larvae skeletonize the leaf lamina. Early in the season, severe feeding damage to young plants can kill the growing point; a symptom called 'dead heart' in maize. Maize plants may have the cobs attacked by larvae boring through the kernels. At high densities, large larvae may act as armyworms and disperse in swarms, but they often remain in the locality on wild grasses, if available.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page

Fruit

  • external feeding
  • internal feeding

Growing point

  • external feeding
  • internal feeding; boring

Inflorescence

  • external feeding

Leaves

  • external feeding

Stems

  • external feeding

Whole plant

  • cut at stem base

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Eggs are laid at night on the leaves of the host, stuck to the lower surface of the lower part of the lower leaves, in tight clusters of 100-300 and sometimes in two layers, usually covered with a protective layer of abdominal bristles. Hatching requires 2-10 days (usually 3-5). The young larvae feed deep in the whorl; the first two instars feed gregariously on the underside of the young leaves causing a characteristic skeletonizing or 'windowing' effect, and the growing point can be killed. Larger larvae become cannibalistic and thus one or two larvae per whorl is usual. The rate of larval development through the six instars is controlled by a combination of diet and temperature conditions, and usually takes 14-21 days. Larger larvae are nocturnal unless they enter the armyworm phase when they swarm and disperse, seeking other food sources. Pupation takes place inside a loose cocoon in an earthen cell, or rarely between leaves on the host plant, and 9-13 days are required for development. Adults emerge at night, and they typically use their natural pre-oviposition period to fly for many kilometres before they settle to oviposit, sometimes migrating for long distances. On average, adults live for 12-14 days.

A threshold temperature of 10.9°C and 559 day-degrees C is required for development. Sandy-clay or clay-sand soils are suitable for pupation and adult emergence. Emergence in sandy-clay and clay-sand soils was directly proportional to temperature and inversely proportional to humidity. Above 30°C the wings of adults tend to be deformed. Pupae require a threshold temperature of 14.6°C and 138 day-degrees C to complete their development (Ramirez-Garcia et al., 1987).

S. frugiperda is a tropical species adapted to the warmer parts of the New World; the optimum temperature for larval development is reported to be 28°C, but it is lower for both oviposition and pupation. In the tropics, breeding can be continuous with four to six generations per year, but in northern regions only one or two generations develop; at lower temperatures, activity and development cease, and when freezing occurs all stages are usually killed. In the USA, S. frugiperda usually overwinters only in southern Texas and Florida. In mild winters, pupae survive in more northerly locations.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

S. frugiperda is a regular annual migrant in the Americas, dispersing throughout the USA and flying into southern Canada virtually every summer. It is suggested that, in this species, migration has evolved as a major component in the life history strategy. The use of the pre-oviposition (maturation) period for widespread dispersal seems to be very effective. In the USA, adult moths have been recorded using a low-level jet stream, which took them from Mississippi to Canada in 30 h.

Larvae frequently act as armyworms in late summer or early autumn and local dispersal is thus effected successfully, which helps to reduce larval mortality.

In most years larvae arrive in Europe carried by air-freight on vegetables or fruit from the New World; sometimes they are also intercepted on herbaceous ornamentals (Seymour et al., 1985). A useful review of this topic was produced by Johnson (1987).

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agelaius phoeniceus Predator
Alabagrus stigma Parasite Larvae
Aleiodes laphygmae Parasite Larvae Honduras
Alveoplectrus corumbae Parasite
Archytas apicifer Parasite Larvae
Archytas incertus Parasite Larvae Brazil; Sao Paulo maize
Archytas marmoratus Parasite Larvae/Pupae Honduras maize; sorghum
Bacillus cereus Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis alesti Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis darmstadiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis tolworthi Pathogen Larvae
Baculovirus spodoptera Pathogen
Balaustium putmani Predator
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Brachymeria ovata Parasite Pupae
Calleida decora Predator Larvae
Calosoma alternans Predator Larvae
Calosoma sayi Predator Larvae
Campoletis chlorideae Parasite Barbados maize
Campoletis flavicincta Parasite Larvae Silva et al., 2012 Brazil; Sao Paulo maize
Campoletis grioti Parasite
Campoletis oxylus
Campoletis sonorensis Parasite Honduras maize; sorghum
Carabidae Predator Larvae/Pupae
Chelonus curvimaculatus Parasite Eggs/Larvae
Chelonus formosanus Parasite Larvae Barbados; Trinidad and Tobago maize
Chelonus insularis Parasite Eggs/Larvae Brazil; Sao Paulo; Honduras maize; sorghum
Cotesia marginiventris Parasite Larvae Barbados; Brazil; Sao Paulo; Honduras; Trinidad maize
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Larvae Trinidad and Tobago
Cryptus albitarsis Parasite
Diapetimorpha introita Parasite
Doru luteipes Predator
Doru taeniatum Predator
Ectatomma ruidum Predator
Eiphosoma vitticolle Parasite Brazil; Sao Paulo; Honduras maize
Entomophaga aulicae Pathogen
Erynia radicans Pathogen Venezuela maize
Euplectrus comstockii Parasite
Euplectrus platyhypenae Parasite Larvae Guyana; St Kitts Nevis
Geocoris punctipes Predator
Glabromicroplitis croceipes Parasite Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Hyposoter annulipes Parasite
Labidura riparia Predator
Lespesia affinis Parasite Larvae
Lespesia archippivora Parasite Larvae Brazil; Sao Paulo; Honduras maize; sorghum
Limonethe spodopterae Parasite
Lixophaga diatraeae Parasite Larvae
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
Meteorus autographae Parasite Larvae
Meteorus laphygmae Parasite Larvae
Microchelonus heliopae Parasite Eggs/Larvae Barbados maize
Microplitis manilae Parasite Larvae
Microplitis rufiventris Parasite Larvae
Nabis capsiformis Predator
Noctuidonema guyanense Parasite
Nomuraea rileyi Pathogen Larvae Nicaragua; Venezuela maize
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Ophion flavidus Parasite Brazil; Sao Paulo; Honduras maize; sorghum
Orius insidiosus Predator
Paecilomyces fumosoroseus Pathogen
Podisus connexivus Predator
Podisus maculiventris Predator
Solenopsis invicta Predator
Spilochalcis chapadae Parasite
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite Larvae
Steinernema feltiae Parasite
Steinernema riobravis Parasite
Stelopolybia pallipes Predator
Sycanus indagator Predator
Telenomus remus Parasite Eggs Barbados; Bermuda; Florida; Guyana; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Venezuela maize; vegetables
Temelucha difficilis Parasite
Trichogramma achaeae Parasite Eggs Barbados maize
Trichogramma chilotraeae Parasite Eggs Barbados maize
Trichogramma pretiosum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma rojasi Parasite Eggs Camera et al., 2010
Trichospilus pupivora Parasite Barbados maize
Vairimorpha necatrix Pathogen
Winthemia rufiventris Parasite Larvae

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Efforts were made to introduce the egg parasitoid, Telenomus remus, into countries where it had not already been found. These introductions have been credited with reducing the numbers of this and other pest Spodoptera occuring alongside it (Cock, 1985).

Economic Impact

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S. frugiperda is found widely throughout the warmer parts of the New World. Damage results from leaf-eating and healthy plants usually recover quite quickly, but a large pest population can cause defoliation and resulting yield losses; the larvae then migrate to adjacent areas in true armyworm fashion.

In Nicaragua, van Huis (1981) found a 33% increase in maize yield when plants were protected with insecticide. Infestations during the mid- to late-whorl stage of maize development caused yield losses of 15-73% when 55-100% of the plants were infested with S. frugiperda (Hruska and Gould, 1997). Caterpillars of S. frugiperda appear to be much more damaging to maize in West and Central Africa than most other African Spodoptera species (IITA, 2016).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page Detection is facilitated by searching fields for leaf feeding damage and by pheromone traps.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page

Larvae of S. frugiperda are distinct in their aggressive feeding behaviour and dark coloration.

Adults of S. frugiperda can be confused with those of S. exempta and S. littoralis. In S. frugiperda the veins of the hindwing are brown and distinct, and in the male forewing the pale orbicular stigma has a pronounced pale 'tail' distally. In the male genitalia the valve is almost rectangular and there is no marginal notch at the position of the tip of the harpe; the female bursa lacks a signum. In Africa it can also be confused with S. exigua (IITA, 2016). An EPPO standard provides guidance for the identification of S. littoralis, S. litura, S. frugiperda and S. eridania (OEPP/EPPO, 2015); Brown and Dewhurst (1975) give details of the African species of Spodoptera, and Todd and Poole (1980) give keys to moths of the genus Spodoptera in the Western Hemisphere.

Prevention and Control

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Introduction

The literature on this pest is extensive (Ashley et al., 1989). This is in part due to the importance of maize, the importance of lepidopteran pests, the quest for alternative control methods following the development of insect resistance to pesticides, and the development of host-plant resistance breeding programmes. On maize, if 5% of seedlings are cut or 20% of whorls of small plants (during the first 30 days) are infested, it is recommended that an insecticide be applied (King and Saunders, 1984); on sorghum the pest threshold level is regarded as one (or two) larvae per leaf whorl and two per head (Pitre, 1985).

Cultural Control

Control is largely achieved in the northern range through a winter kill by exposing larvae and pupae within the upper soil surface. Freezing temperatures cause high larval mortality. Therefore, clean cultivation and weeding are recommended.

Biological Control

A large number of parasitic Hymenoptera, acting as larval parasitoids, have been reared from S. frugiperda, and many predators are recorded; it appears that natural controls are of considerable importance. Natural levels of larval parasitism are often very high (20-70%), mostly by braconid wasps. Some 10-15% of larvae are often killed by pathogens.

The compound N-(17-hydroxylinolenoyl)-L-glutamine called volicitin was isolated from oral secretions of S. exigua larvae. When applied to damaged leaves of maize seedlings, volicitin induced the seedlings to emit volatile compounds that attracted females of the parasitoid Cotesia marginiventris. Mechanical damage of the leaves, without application of this compound, did not trigger release of the same blend of volatiles. Volicitin appears to regulate tritrophic interactions among plants, insect herbivores and natural enemies of S. exigua (Alborn et al., 1997).

Host-Plant Resistance

Spodoptera spp. resistance breeding programmes have developed field crop varieties with improved resistance, one example being maize (Mihm et al., 1988). One resistance mechanism that appears to be operating in maize is increased leaf toughness vis-à-vis a thicker epidermis (Davis et al., 1995).

Transgenic maize containing genes encoding delta-endotoxins from Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki have been commercialized in the USA and Brazil. Vegetative insecticidal proteins (vip) have been isolated from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) during the vegetative phase of growth which show a wide spectrum of activities against lepidopteran pests, especially Spodoptera spp. (Estruch et al., 1996). Spodoptera spp. appear to be controlled by these toxins, but the development of resistance is a concern (Moar et al., 1995). Field-evolved resistance to the Bt maize expressing the Cry1Ab protein is reducing it efficacy in Brazil  (Omoto et al., 2016).

Chemical Control

In some areas resistance to insecticides may be widespread and control can be difficult (Pitre, 1985). Recommended insecticides for Spodoptera spp. include esfenvalerate, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos, malathion, permethrin, and lamba-cyhalothrin (Anon., 1997).

Pheromonal Control

The sex pheromone for S. frugiperda contains (Z)-9-Tetradecenyl acetate (Z-9-14:OAca) which is common to Trichoplusia ni, Spodoptera exigua and Agrotis ipsilon exigua (Klun et al., 1996). Mating disruption my be possible given the successes observed for S. exigua in which (9Z,12E)-9,12-tetradecadienyl acetate released at high concentrations, caused mating disruption in tomato, lucerne and cotton fields (Shorey et al., 1994).

IPM Programmes

Integrated control of S. frugiperda has been facilitated through cultivation practices to destroy overwintering sites, improved varieties with resistance to leaf feeding through conventional mechanisms or the introduction of Bt crops. Biological controls are prevalent and should be encouraged through reduced spaying of insecticides.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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