Noctua pronuba (common yellow underwing moth)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- List of Symptoms/Signs
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Detection and Inspection
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Noctua pronuba (Linnaeus)
Preferred Common Name
- common yellow underwing moth
Other Scientific Names
- Agrotis pronuba (Linnaeus)
- Euschesis pronuba (Linnaeus)
- Graphiphora pronuba (Linnaeus)
- Lampra pronuba (Linnaeus)
- Phalaena pronuba Linnaeus
- Rhyacia pronuba
- Triphaena pronuba (Linnaeus)
International Common Names
- English: hibon; large yellow underwing moth
- Spanish: noctua novia; rosquilla
- French: fiancee; noctuelle fiancée
Local Common Names
- Denmark: smutugle
- Finland: morsiusyökkönen
- Germany: Bandeule; Eule, Grosse Band-; Eule, Sauerampfer-; Hausmüetterchen
- Israel: agrotis haklulot
- Italy: Nottua della vite; Nottua fidanzata
- Netherlands: Hooivlinder
- Norway: vanlig bandfly
- Sweden: stora jordflyet
- Turkey: kahverengi tirpan kurdu
- NOCTPR (Noctua pronuba)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Uniramia
- Class: Insecta
- Order: Lepidoptera
- Family: Noctuidae
- Genus: Noctua
- Species: Noctua pronuba
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page N. pronuba was first described by Linnaeus (as Phalaena pronuba) in 1758. Adults are of variable appearance and several forewing colour forms are recognized, including (in males) ab. brunnea, ab. distinctacaerulescens, ab. innuba, ab. ochreobrunnea; and (in females) ab. caerulescens, ab. ochrea, ab. rufa. Hindwing colour forms include ab. hoegi, ab. postnigra, and ab. suffusa (Heath and Emmett, 1979).
DescriptionTop of page Adults
Adults have a 50-60 mm wingspan. Forewings vary from more or less uniformly ochreous through marbled ochreous and brown to blue-grey, slate-grey, deep reddish-brown, brick-red or blackish-brown, with large and prominent orbicular and reniform stigmata. Claviform stigmas are absent. The junction of the sub-terminal line and the costa is marked by a distinctive, double black spot. Crosslines are generally inconspicuous. Hindwings are typically orange-yellow, with a distinct black border (approximately one-sixth of the width of the wing). Cilia are orange-yellow with no discal spot. The general coloration of hairs covering the thorax is similar to that of the forewings. Both sexes are highly polymorphic, but the forewings of males tend to be dark and those of females tend to be pale. With rare exceptions, the hindwings show little variation. Antennae of both sexes are finely setose.
The eggs of N. pronuba are globular, strongly ribbed and reticulate. They are pale creamy-white when newly laid, but they soon become pinkish to greyish. Eggs are laid in large batches, often of several hundred and sometimes of more than 1000.
Larvae are up to ca 50 mm long, smooth-bodied and plump, and slightly tapered anteriorly. The head is light brown with darker markings. The prothoracic plate varies from brown (in green-bodied individuals) to blackish (in dark-bodied individuals), with a pale median sulcus. General body coloration varies from ochreous through brownish to bright green, with a pale, narrow dorsal line and slightly wider subdorsal lines, the latter marked above on each abdominal segment by a series of prominent black dashes. Spiracles are black. Body coloration is ventrally pale brownish. Neonate larvae are pinkish-grey, with a black head and a small, blackish prothoracic plate. They have five pairs of abdominal prolegs, and progress as a semi-looper.
Pupae are chestnut-brown, smooth and shiny and 25 mm long. The cremaster has a pair of stout, more or less divergent, tapering spines and a pair of bristles.
DistributionTop of page Widely distributed throughout Western Europe, its range extends to North Africa, Iceland and central Scandinavia; it is also recorded from parts of Asia (Balachowsky, 1972; Heath and Emmet, 1979).
Distribution TableTop of page
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/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Morocco||Present||Balachowsky and, 1972|
|Canada||Present||Copley and Cannings, 2005|
|-British Columbia||Present||Copley and Cannings, 2005|
|Czech Republic||Present||Hrudová, 2005|
|France||Widespread||Balachowsky and, 1972|
|Iceland||Present||Heath and Emmet, 1979|
|Ireland||Widespread||Heath and Emmet, 1979|
|Switzerland||Present||Hächler et al., 2002|
|UK||Widespread||Heath and Emmet, 1979|
|-Channel Islands||Widespread||Heath and Emmet, 1979|
HabitatTop of page N. pronuba is most abundant in lowland habitats but is also found on moorland.
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page N. pronuba is a polyphagous species, the larvae feeding on a wide range of cultivated and wild plants. In addition to the crops and wild hosts listed, the larvae also feed on the young stages and seedlings of many other plants, including (for example, in forest nurseries) various trees and shrubs. Egg batches may also be deposited on leaves of plants that are not necessarily larval food-plants.
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Beta vulgaris (beetroot)||Chenopodiaceae||Other|
|Daucus carota (carrot)||Apiaceae||Other|
|Fragaria ananassa (strawberry)||Rosaceae||Other|
|Humulus lupulus (hop)||Cannabaceae||Other|
|Lactuca sativa (lettuce)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Nicotiana rustica (wild tobacco)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Plantago (Plantain)||Plantaginaceae||Wild host|
|Poa (meadow grass)||Poaceae||Other|
|Poaceae (grasses)||Poaceae||Wild host|
|Rumex (Dock)||Polygonaceae||Wild host|
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Trisetum flavescens (yellow oatgrass)||Poaceae||Other|
|Vitis vinifera (grapevine)||Vitaceae||Other|
Growth StagesTop of page Flowering stage, Seedling stage, Vegetative growing stage
SymptomsTop of page Larvae most often occur in the soil, close to the roots of host plants. At night, they often ascend host plants to feed on the leaves, inflorescence and other aerial parts. They also attack the root system of host plants, adopting a more typical cutworm habit than do other members of the genus.
List of Symptoms/SignsTop of page
|Growing point / external feeding|
|Inflorescence / external feeding|
|Leaves / external feeding|
|Roots / external feeding|
|Stems / external feeding|
|Whole plant / external feeding|
Biology and EcologyTop of page N. pronuba is typically univoltine. Adults occur mainly from June onwards, with a peak of activity in August. Eggs are deposited in large batches on the leaves of various plants, after an obligatory pre-oviposition period of about a month (Singh and Kevan, 1956). Hatching occurs about a month later (Scorer, 1913). The larvae feed from mid-summer or early autumn onwards, becoming full-grown in the following spring. Individuals pupate in the soil in the late spring, and adults appear a few to several weeks later; the period of adult emergence is protracted, extending over several weeks.
Although adults are nocturnal, they are readily attracted to light and to nectar sources (including flowers such as Buddleia and Valeriana). During the daytime they roost on the ground or amongst the shelter of leaves, dead grass and so on. The roosting moths are readily disturbed, individuals then flying rapidly and erratically for a short distance (the flash of colour from the hindwings making them particularly obvious) before resettling.
Unlike several other cutworm species (for example, Agrotis segetum), larvae of Noctua pronuba are less affected by adverse, damp conditions. Nevertheless, larval development varies considerably according to temperature, ranging, for example, from 32 days at 25ºC to 150 days at 10ºC (Madge, 1962), to 230 days at 8ºC (Balachowsky, 1972). The duration of the prepupal and pupal stages also varies according to temperature (see Madge, 1962 and Balachowsky, 1972).
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
ImpactTop of page N. pronuba is a minor pest of strawberry (Alford, 1984; Tuovinen, 1997), hop (Balachowsky, 1972), potato (Wilson, 1943), grasses (Miles, 1921) and a few other outdoor crops, including seedling trees in forest nurseries (Carter and Gibbs, 1989), but it is rarely of importance on a field scale. N. pronuba is also a minor pest of protected and outdoor ornamentals such as Dianthus (carnations and pinks) (Pape, 1964; Alford, 1991).
Detection and InspectionTop of page At night, the larvae may be found feeding on the aerial parts of host plants or on the root system. During the daytime, the larvae are most often found within the root zone of host plants.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page Noctua orbona is similar in appearance to N. pronuba but is noticeably smaller (38-45 mm wingspan) and has a large discal spot on each hindwing. Noctua comes (38-48 mm wingspan) has a large discal spot on each hindwing and lacks the double black spot on each forewing. Noctua fimbriata is of a similar size to N. pronuba but the black border on the hindwings is very broad (almost one-half width of the wing).
The larvae are distinguished from those of typical cutworm species (for example, Agrotis segetum) by their more pronounced (often distinctly greenish) body coloration, by the characteristic bold, dash-like markings on the abdominal segments, and by their habit of frequently ascending plants to feed on leaves.
Prevention and ControlTop of page On strawberry, larvae of N. pronuba may be controlled by drenching infested plants (Alford, 1984); suitable insecticides include chlorpyrifos and cypermethrin. Drenching treatments are also recommended for use in forest tree nursery seedbeds (Carter and Gibbs, 1989). Handpicking of larvae is often the most suitable way of eliminating larvae in gardens and allotments (Gratwick, 1992). Specific control of larvae on field crops is rarely necessary.
ReferencesTop of page
Alford DV, 1991. A Colour Atlas of Pests of Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Flowers. London, UK: Wolfe Publishing Ltd.
Balachowsky AS, ed. , 1972. Entomology applied to agriculture. Tome II. Lepidoptera. Second volume. Zygaenoidea-Pyraloidea-Noctuoidea. Entomologie appliquee a l'agriculture. Tome II. Lepidopteres. Deuxieme volume. Zygaenoidea-Pyraloidea-Noctuoidea. Paris, France: Masson et Cie, pp 1059-1634.
Carter CI; Gibbs JN, 1989. Pests and diseases of forest crops. In: Scopes N, Stables L, eds. Pest and Disease Control Handbook. Thornton Heath, UK: British Crop Protection Council.
Copley CR; Cannings RA, 2005. Notes on the status of the Eurasian moths Noctua pronuba and Noctua comes (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Journal of the Entomological Society of British Columbia, 102:83-84.
Gratwick M, 1992. Crop pests in the UK: collected edition of MAFF leaflets. Crop pests in the UK: collected edition of MAFF leaflets., x + 490 pp.; [Co-published with Van Nostrand Reinhold, Inc., New York, USA].
Hrudová E, 2005. Nontarget Lepidoptera species found in the pheromone traps for selected tortricid species in 2002 and 2003 years. Acta Universitatis Agriculturae et Silviculturae Mendelianae Brunensis, 53(1):35-44.
Hächler M; Bloesch B; Mittaz Ch, 2002. Migration of noctuid moths. Observations at the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass. (Migration des lépidoptères nocturnes: observations au col du Grand-Saint-Bernard.) Revue Suisse d'Agriculture, 34(3):137-145.
Madge DS, 1962. The biology of the cutworm Tryphaena pronuba L. (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae). Part I. Laboratory investigations. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 5:261-269.
Miles HW, 1921a. Observations on the insects of grasses and their relation to cultivated crops. Annals of Applied Biology, 8:170-184.
Pape H, 1964. Krankheiten und SchSdlinge der Zierpflanzen und ihre BekSmpfung. 5th edition (revised). Berlin, Germany: Paul Parey. 625 pp. (In German).
Scorer AG, 1913. The entomologist's log-book, and dictionary of the life histories and food plants of the British Macrolepidoptera. London, UK: Routledge.
Singh MP; Kevan DKMcE, 1956. Notes on three common British species of noctuid moth. I. Longevity and oviposition. Entomologist's Record and Journal of Variation, 68:233-235.
SourFs B, 1948. Contribution á l'étude des LépidoptFres de la Tunisie. Ann. Serv. Bot. Agron. Tunisie, 93-96, 130-133.
Tuovinen T, 1997. HedelmS- ja Marjakasvien tuhoelSimet. Kasninsuojeluseuran julkaisu No 89.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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