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Datasheet

Mythimna unipuncta
(rice armyworm)

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Datasheet

Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 11 October 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mythimna unipuncta
  • Preferred Common Name
  • rice armyworm
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • It is commonly known that M. unipuncta migrates and it is only likely to establish when the climatic conditions change. Following migration it can then remain a resident instead of being a visitor.

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, dorsal view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
TitleAdult female
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, dorsal view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, dorsal view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
Adult femaleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, dorsal view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, ventral view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960.
TitleAdult female
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, ventral view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, ventral view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960.
Adult femaleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, ventral view. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. July, 1960.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, dorsal view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
TitleAdult male
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, dorsal view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, dorsal view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.
Adult maleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, dorsal view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962. Adult with a wingspan of ca.35 mm. Female with mahogany-brown fore wings, marked at their centre by a small white spot and, towards the borders, by small black points disposed longitudinally. The hind wings are dirty grey.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, ventral view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
TitleAdult male
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, ventral view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, ventral view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
Adult maleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, ventral view. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, upper forewing. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. 27 July 1960.
TitleAdult female
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, upper forewing. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. 27 July 1960.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, upper forewing. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. 27 July 1960.
Adult femaleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult female, upper forewing. Douglas Lake, Cheboygan Co., Michigan, USA. 27 July 1960.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, upper forwing. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
TitleAdult male
CaptionMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, upper forwing. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
Copyright©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU
Mythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, upper forwing. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.
Adult maleMythimna unipuncta (rice armyworm); adult male, upper forwing. Walnut Creek, Central Costa Co., California, USA. May, 1962.©PaDIL/Peter Lillywhite/Museum Victoria - CC BY 3.0 AU

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mythimna unipuncta Haworth

Preferred Common Name

  • rice armyworm

Other Scientific Names

  • Cirphis unipuncta Haworth
  • Heliophila Butl.
  • Heliophila unipuncta Haworth
  • Leucania antica Walker
  • Leucania extranea Guenée
  • Leucania saccharivora Butl.
  • Leucania unipuncta Haworth
  • Leucania unipuncta tseki Koutsaftikis
  • Noctua unipuncta Haworth
  • Pseudaletia adultera
  • Pseudaletia unipuncta (Haworth)
  • Pseudaletia unipuncta quecha Franclemont
  • Sideridis unipuncta Haworth

International Common Names

  • English: American army worm; American wainscot; armyworm; armyworm, American; armyworm, true; rice cutworm; true armyworm; white-speck
  • Spanish: cuncunilla de las chagras; gusano soldado; gusano soldado del maiz (Mexico); isoca militar verdadera (Arg); lagarta de los cereales; oruga desfoliadora de los pastos
  • French: chenille legionaire; legionaire uniponctuee; légionnaire uniponctuée; légionnaire unipunctée; noctuelle des graminees
  • Portuguese: lagarta das pastagens

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: lagarta do trigo; lagarta do trigo
  • Germany: Eule, Amerikanische Reis-; Heerwurm
  • Japan: Awa-yoto
  • USA/Hawaii: peelua; poko

EPPO code

  • PSEDUN (Mythimna unipuncta)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page It is commonly known that M. unipuncta migrates and it is only likely to establish when the climatic conditions change. Following migration it can then remain a resident instead of being a visitor.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Lepidoptera
  •                         Family: Noctuidae
  •                             Genus: Mythimna
  •                                 Species: Mythimna unipuncta

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page It should be noted that this species is still referred to as Pseudaletia unipuncta in North America (see Franclemont, 1951). Most taxonomists regard Pseudaletia as a subgenus of Mythimna, so the species can be known as Mythimna (Pseudaletia) unipuncta.

Past records of Mythimna (Cirphis, Leucania or Pseudaletia) unipuncta in South-East Asia, Australia and certain Pacific Islands are now known to refer to other species (CIE, 1967) including Mythimna separata (South-East Asia) or Mythimna convecta (Australia).

Description

Top of page Eggs

At the time of oviposition, eggs are white to pale-yellow spheres, 6-7 mm in diameter. They darken in colour as embryonic development progresses and just prior to hatching are a dark, metallic grey.

Larvae

Young larvae are pale-green, whereas the more mature larvae vary from yellow-brown to grey-green, depending on diet and climatic conditions. Segmental patterning is such that three dorsal and two lateral longitudinal lines are visible on the body. Breeland (1958) provided a detailed description of the sixth-instar larva and a key to separate M. unipuncta larvae from other noctuids found in the same habitat in Tennessee, USA. See also Carter (1984).

Pupa

A typical, 12-19 mm long, noctuid pupa, changing in colour from pale-amber to dark-brown during pupal development. Females are larger than males, and the sexes may be separated using the structures on the ventral surface of the terminal abdominal segments (see Figure 12 in Breeland, 1958). Carter (1984) gives details of the pupal cremaster.

Adults

Moths vary in colour from pale-beige to a dark reddish-brown, with a distinctive single white spot on each forewing. Breeland (1958) reproduced Riley's 1883 detailed description of the M. unipuncta adult. Complete descriptions of adult genitalia may be found in Franclemont (1951).

Suspected presence in South-East Asia (e.g. through introduction) should be confirmed by examination of genitalia (see also M. separata entry).

Distribution

Top of page Past records of Mythimna (Cirphis, Leucania or Pseudaletia) unipuncta in South-East Asia, Australia and certain Pacific Islands are now known to refer to other species (CIE, 1967) including Mythimna separata (South-East Asia) or Mythimna convecta (Australia). A record from China (Fang et al., 1993) has not been confirmed as M. unipuncta.

M. unipuncta has been reported from all states of the USA except Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada and Wyoming. In some cases this may just reflect low densities and/or little trapping. Similarly, it has been reported from all the Canadian Provinces, but not from the Yukon Territory or the North-West Territories (JN McNeil, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, personal communication, 1995).

In northern Europe, M. unipuncta is often recorded as a migrant, but population densities have never reached pest levels. In the distribution list, where the species is occasionally present ('present, few occurrences'), it occurs as a migrant and it is only likely to establish if the conditions change (e.g. rising temperatures).

Distribution Table

Top 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/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaPresentIntroducedFang et al., 1993
IndiaPresentIntroducedAPPPC, 1987
-GujaratPresentPatel et al., 1987
-HaryanaPresentRishi et al., 2004; Rishi et al., 2004
-HaryanaPresentRishi et al., 2004; Rishi et al., 2004
-Indian PunjabPresentGarg and Chaudhary, 1979
-JharkhandPresentRabindra and Devendra, 2006
-KarnatakaPresentVijaykumar, and Patil, 2003; Vijaykumar, and Patil, 2003
-KarnatakaPresentVijaykumar, and Patil, 2003; Vijaykumar, and Patil, 2003
-MaharashtraPresentGawande et al., 1979
-RajasthanPresentKhan and Sharma, 1971, publ. 1972
-Tamil NaduPresentBalasubramaniam, 1973
IranPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
IsraelPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
TurkeyPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
UzbekistanPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967

Africa

MaliPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
MoroccoPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
NigerPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
SenegalPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
SomaliaPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
Spain
-Canary IslandsPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
TogoPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967

North America

CanadaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
-ManitobaPresentAyre and Lamb, 1990
-Nova ScotiaPresentSpecht, 1972
-OntarioPresentMcClanahan and Elliott, 1976, publ. 1977
-QuebecPresent, few occurrencesFields and McNeil, 1984; McNeil et al., 2005
-QuebecPresentFields and McNeil, 1984; McNeil et al., 2005
MexicoPresentNativeCIE, 1967
USAWidespreadNativeCIE, 1967
-ArkansasPresentSteinkraus and Mueller, 2003
-ColoradoPresentWarren, 1990
-ConnecticutPresentMagnarelli and Andreadis, 2004
-FloridaPresentKoehler et al., 1977
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
-IllinoisPresentRoberts et al., 1977
-IowaPresentHendrix and Showers, 1992
-MarylandPresentTaylor and Shields, 1990
-MinnesotaPresentWynn et al., 1988
-MissouriPresentHendrix and Showers, 1992
-New YorkPresentTaylor and Shields, 1990
-OhioPresentWillson and Stinner, 1994
-OklahomaPresentSoteres et al., 1984
-OregonPresentKamm, 1985
-TennesseePresentFields and McNeil, 1984
-TexasPresentHendrix and Showers, 1992
-WashingtonPresentLandolt and Higbee, 2002; Landolt and Higbee, 2002
-WashingtonPresentLandolt and Higbee, 2002; Landolt and Higbee, 2002

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresentNativeCIE, 1967
Costa RicaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
CubaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
GuatemalaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
JamaicaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
PanamaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
Puerto RicoPresentNativeCIE, 1967

South America

ArgentinaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
BoliviaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
BrazilPresentNativeCIE, 1967
-Sao PauloPresentNativeCIE, 1967
ChilePresentNativeCIE, 1967
ColombiaPresentNativeCIE, 1967
ParaguayPresentNativeCIE, 1967
UruguayPresentNativeCIE, 1967
VenezuelaPresentNativeCIE, 1967

Europe

BulgariaPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
DenmarkPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
FrancePresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
-CorsicaPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
GermanyPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
GreecePresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
HungaryPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
IcelandPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
IrelandPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
ItalyPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
LuxembourgPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
MaltaPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
NetherlandsPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
PolandPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
PortugalPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
-AzoresWidespreadNativeCIE, 1967
-MadeiraPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
RomaniaPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
Russian FederationPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedCIE, 1967
-Central RussiaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedCIE, 1967
-Russia (Europe)Present, few occurrencesIntroducedCIE, 1967
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
SpainPresentIntroducedCIE, 1967
SwedenPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
SwitzerlandPresentIntroducedKarsholt and Razowski, 1996
UKPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedCIE, 1967

History of Introduction and Spread

Top of page M. unipuncta was originally a neotropical species and has been known in Europe since the nineteenth century. As it is strongly migratory, it is always ready to spread but will only do so if the conditions are favourable, for example, it has not normally reached pest numbers in the Swiss Alps. However, it has begun to reach pests numbers in the Magadino plain, Tessin, Switzerland, due to climatic changes (Hächler and Brunetti, 2002).

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page The larvae of M. unipuncta cause the most important economic losses in small grains (barley, millet, oats, rice, rye and wheat), maize and grasses (e.g. Phleum pratense). However, at high larval densities, they will feed on less preferred hosts, such as lucerne and clover (Trifolium sp.), that occur in or close to infested sites.

Forbes (1905) reported larvae feeding on amaranthus, apples, beans, cucumbers, honeysuckle, parsley, peppers, ragweed (Ambrosia sp.), strawberries, sweet potatoes and watermelons, with Beirne (1971) adding cabbages, marigolds, potatoes, sugarbeets, and turnips to the list. In addition, Forbes (1905) successfully reared M. unipuncta in the laboratory on beet, carrots, lettuces, onions, parsnips, peas, poppies, radishes and raspberries. Carter (1984) provides references to European sources.

Growth Stages

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

Symptoms

Top of page Irregular defoliation of leaves, with the midrib often left intact, is typical on small grains. On maize, larvae may be found in the youngest furled leaves. When M. unipuncta infestations coincide with heading in small grains, larvae may cut off the seed heads (barley) or feed on panicles (wheat, rice). Evident quantities of frass pellets on the ground near plants or in leaf axis may also be used to detect infestations.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Leaves / external feeding
Seeds / external feeding
Stems / external feeding

Biology and Ecology

Top of page Life Cycle

A detailed description of the life cycle may be found in Breeland (1958). Carter (1984) reviews this species in a European context.

Females lay their eggs in tight places, such as between the leaf sheath and stem or in cracks on dry vegetation, making eggs difficult to locate under field conditions. (This is reflected by the fact that nobody claimed the $10,000 that CV Riley, the Missouri state entomologist, offered for a field-collected egg mass in the late 1800s (cited by Breeland, 1958).)

Eggs hatch after 6-12 days (at temperatures between 15-25°C). During the first two larval instars, larvae are somewhat gregarious, feeding during the day on the youngest leaves. During this period, leaves are skeletonized. By the third instar, larvae become solitary and are nocturnal feeders, chewing holes in the leaves. During the day the larvae are found in leaf axils or under dense vegetation or debris on the ground. There are six or seven larval instars, the number depending on both the type and quality of host plants. In the absence of a proper scouting system, larvae are only detected when they reach the last two instars, the time at which defoliation is the greatest and when, under epidemic conditions, mass movement of larvae in search of food occurs.

At the end of larval development (varying between 20 and 65 days from 15 to 25°C), the prepupa burrows 2-10 cm into the soil, forms a pupal cell lined with a thin silk webbing, and pupates. Moths emerge several weeks later and there is a pre-reproductive period of at least two days. Adults are nocturnal, feeding early in the scotophase on nectar or decomposing fruit. Behaviour associated with reproduction is generally expressed in the later half of the night. Both males and females may mate several times, with females producing 400-2,000 eggs over a 2 to 3 week period.

Population Dynamics

The geographic range of M. unipuncta may be divided into two zones. In the first, at sites such as Tennessee, USA (Breeland, 1958), southern France (Bues et al., 1986) and the Azores (Tavares, 1989), populations are present all year round. In such locations, the number of generations will be directly related to prevailing temperature conditions, for this species does not enter diapause (Fields and McNeil, 1984; Ayres, 1985; Bues et al., 1987) and development is continuous. Growth rates of the different developmental stages of M. unipuncta over a range of temperatures have been studied (see Guppy, 1969; Bues et al., 1987; Taylor and Shields, 1990).

However, in other locations where climatic conditions do not permit permanent occupation, such as the northern USA and Canada as well as western France, temporary populations are established annually through the arrival of immigrants. It has been hypothesized that these are not dead-end populations, but represent one part of a seasonal migration pattern in response to predictable habitat deterioration (McNeil, 1987; McNeil et al., 1994). In North America, for example, it is proposed that Mythimna unipuncta may overwinter in the southern USA but leave in the spring, before temperatures become too high, to establish summer populations in sites further north where temperature conditions are suitable. In the autumn the newly formed adults undertake a southward migration to avoid lethal winter conditions. In both cases it is proposed that the onset of migration is induced by low-temperature, short-day conditions (Turgeon and McNeil, 1983; Delisle and McNeil, 1987; McNeil et al., 1994).

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agnitia fugitiva Parasite Larvae
Agrothereutes Parasite Larvae
Aleiodes laphygmae Parasite Larvae
Aleiodes terminalis Parasite Larvae
Amblyteles Parasite Larvae
Apanteles bourquini Parasite Larvae
Apanteles elegans Parasite Larvae
Apanteles kariyai Parasite Larvae
Apanteles muesebecki Parasite Larvae
Apanteles samoanus Parasite Larvae
Archytas apicifer Parasite Larvae
Archytas cirphis Parasite Larvae Hawaii sugarcane
Archytas incertus Parasite Larvae
Archytas marmoratus Parasite Larvae
Athrycia cinerea Parasite Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Larvae
Belvosia unifasciata Parasite Larvae
Blondelia nigripes Parasite Larvae
Callidosoma treati Parasite
Calosoma argentinense Predator Larvae/Pupae
Calosoma calidum Predator Larvae/Pupae
Calosoma maderae Predator Larvae/Pupae
Calosoma olivieri Predator Larvae/Pupae
Calosoma retusum Predator Larvae/Pupae
Calosoma semilaeve Predator Larvae/Pupae
Campoletis chlorideae
Campoletis flavicincta Parasite Larvae
Campoletis oxylus Parasite Larvae
Carabus blaptoides Predator Larvae/Pupae
Chelonus inanitus Parasite Eggs/Larvae
Chelonus insularis Parasite Larvae
Chetogena claripennis Parasite Larvae
Compsilura concinnata Parasite Larvae
Compsocryptus melanostigma Parasite Larvae
Cotesia marginiventris Parasite Larvae
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Larvae
Cyclotrachelus sodalis Predator Larvae
Damaster blaptoides Predator Larvae Hawaii cereals; pasture plants; Poaceae
Dicrocheles scedastes Parasite
Diolcogaster auripes Parasite Larvae
Dolichocolon paradoxum Parasite Larvae
Dolichogenidea expulsa Parasite Larvae
Drino inconspicua Parasite Larvae
Enicospilus merdarius Parasite Larvae
Enicospilus purgatus Parasite Larvae
Enicospilus ramidulus Parasite Larvae
Eocarcelia cosmophilae Parasite Larvae
Eucelatoria rubentis Parasite Larvae
Euphorocera Parasite Larvae
Euplectrus mellipes Parasite Larvae
Euplectrus platyhypenae Parasite Larvae Hawaii sugarcane
Exorista bombycis Parasite Larvae
Exorista japonica Parasite Larvae
Exorista larvarum Parasite Larvae
Exorista larvarum-mella Parasite Larvae
Furia virescens Pathogen
Glyptapanteles laeviceps Parasite Larvae
Glyptapanteles militaris Parasite Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Heterorhabditis bacteriophora Parasite
Heterorhabditis heliothidis Parasite
Hyposoter annulipes Parasite Larvae
Ichneumon ambulatoris Parasite Pupae
Ichneumon canadensis Parasite Pupae
Ichneumon deliratorius cinctitarsis Parasite Pupae
Itoplectis conquisator Parasite Pupae
Leptus killingtoni Parasite
Lespesia aletiae Parasite Larvae
Lespesia archippivora Parasite Larvae Honduras rice
Linnaemya neavei Parasite Larvae
Lissosculpta albatoria Parasite Larvae
Melanichneumon lissoalba Parasite Pupae
Meloboris marginata Parasite Larvae
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen
Meteorus autographae Parasite Larvae
Meteorus communis Parasite Larvae
Meteorus gyrator Parasite Larvae
Microplitis alaskensis Parasite Larvae
Microplitis varicolor Parasite Larvae
Microtropesa flaviventris Parasite Larvae
Nemoraea pellucida Parasite Larvae
Nemorilla maculosa Parasite Larvae
Nepiera marginata Parasite Larvae
Netelia sayi Parasite Larvae
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen Larvae
Odontepyris cirphi Parasite Larvae
Ophion flavidus Parasite Larvae
Pales pavida Parasite Larvae
Peleteria grioti Parasite Larvae
Peleteria robusta Parasite Larvae
Peleteria texensis Parasite Larvae
Peribaea orbata Parasite Larvae
Peribaea tibialis Parasite Larvae
Periscepsia helymus Parasite Larvae
Periscepsia laevigata Parasite Larvae
Phryxe pecosensis Parasite Larvae
Pimpla hypochondriaca Parasite
Pseudogonia rufifrons Parasite Larvae
Pterostichus chalcites Predator Larvae
Rogas aciculatus Parasite Larvae
Rogas conformis Parasite Larvae
Rogas fortis Parasite Larvae
Rogas fuscomaculatus Parasite Larvae
Serratia marcescens Pathogen
Siphona Parasite Larvae
Steinernema carpocapsae Parasite
Steinernema feltiae Parasite
Steinernema glaseri Parasite
Tachina fera Parasite Larvae
Telenomus cirphivorus Parasite Eggs
Telenomus hawai Parasite Eggs
Tetrastichus howardi Parasite
Therion circumflexum Parasite Pupae
Therion longipes Parasite Pupae
Tolypocladium cylindrosporum Pathogen
Trichogramma dendrolimi Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma japonicum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma minutum Parasite Eggs
Tritaxys braueri Parasite Larvae
Vespula pensylvanica Predator
Vulgichneumon brevicinctor Parasite Pupae
Winthemia quadripustulata Parasite Larvae
Winthemia rufiventris Parasite Larvae
Zele melea Parasite Larvae

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page Breeland (1958) compiled a list of all published records for parasitoids of the true armyworm. However, a number of these species may have been reared from other Mythimna species, and a list restricted to M. unipuncta (sensu Franclemont, 1951) was prepared by Guppy (1967). As noted by McNeil and Turgeon (1988), a few of the Diptera listed therein may be necrophagous species and not actual parasitoids of the armyworm. However, M. unipuncta is attacked by a wide range of generalist parasitoids: detailed lists have been published for Ontario (Guppy, 1967) and Quebec (McNeil and Turgeon, 1988) in Canada; Louisiana (Burrell, 1967), Oklahoma (Soteres et al., 1984), Tennessee (Breeland, 1958) and Virginia (Laub and Luna, 1992) in the USA.

As seen in these publications, the relative importance of the different species within the parasitoid guild varies from year to year, although Marcovitch (1958) suggested that in North America the occurrence of true armyworm epidemics may be closely related to the influence of weather on the population dynamics of one of the most important larval parasitoids, Glyptapanteles (Apantales) militaris. This braconid is also the dominant parasitoid species found attacking the armyworm in the Azores (Tavares, 1989). Masses of yellow silken cocoons, containing prepupae or pupae of Glyptapantales militaris may be found associated with moribund larvae in the field.

The presence of dipteran parasitoids in the population may often be inferred from the presence of eggs, usually laid close to the head capsule on the dorsal surface of the caterpillar. It should be noted that many of the dipteran parasitoids attacking larvae may complete their development once the host has pupated and thus in some references may be referred to as pupal parasitoids as this is the stage from which they emerge. Examples include: Archytas apicifer, Athrycia cinerea, Exorista larvarum-mella, Periscepia helymus, Periscepia laevigata, Phryxe pecosensis, Winthemia rufopicta and Enicospilus purgatus.

The impact of predators has received less detailed attention: Breeland (1958) provided a review from available literature at the time he wrote his monograph. Subsequently, it has been shown that insect generalists, especially certain Coleoptera, may have a significant impact on larval populations (Laub and Luna, 1992; Clark et al., 1994).

Studies on the natural enemies of M. unipuncta have reported that it is attacked by a number of different pathogens (see, for example, Breeland, 1958; McNeil and Turgeon, 1988). The most widely studied have been several baculoviruses (see Harvey and Tanada, 1985; Tanada, 1985 and references therein): workers have examined their mode of action and also the aspects of mixed viral infections and viral-parasitoid interactions. Tanada and Hukuhara (1971) demonstrated the presence of a synergistic factor, in the capsules of a granulosis virus, that enhances the infection of a nuclear-polyhedrosis virus, while Kaya and Tanada (1973) reported a toxin of viral origin that negatively affected parasitoids.

Plant Trade

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Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Fruits (inc. pods)
Growing medium accompanying plants
Roots
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Wood

Wood Packaging

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Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) None
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Impact

Top of page Although M. unipuncta populations are present annually, epidemics occur sporadically on local or wide scales. Due to the unpredictable nature of outbreaks, considerable crop losses may be incurred. This was particularly true when regular monitoring programmes were not in place. For example, losses in excess of $10,000,000 were reported in Kentucky and Minnesota in the 1950s (Pfadt, 1985).

However, if densities are not so high that the entire crop is destroyed, losses are of lesser importance. Attacked plants may support >25% defoliation without significant losses and the impact of larval feeding will vary with environmental conditions and the timing of infestation (Rice et al., 1982a, b; Mulder and Showers, 1986).

The implementation of conservation-tillage practices to reduce soil erosion and conserve energy may affect the population dynamics of the true armyworm. The true armyworm is favoured by maize produced under no tillage management (Tonhasca and Stinner, 1991; Willson and Eisley, 1992), especially if maize is planted in old hayfields or where crops such as rye had been grown previously (Willson and Eisley, 1992).

Detection and Inspection

Top of page In many places there are now well-established scouting programmes, where in-field sampling for a variety of pests (insects, weeds and diseases), including M. unipuncta, is carried out on a regular basis.

Light traps have been used to monitor adult populations early in the season. For example, in the Maryland IPM scouting guide for small grains it notes that cumulative April trap catches that exceed 200 moths are generally associated with subsequent larval outbreaks. This information is used to alert scouts of potential problems in the following 4-6 weeks and allows for intervention, if necessary, before the more damaging late larval instars occur. Light trap catches are also useful to detect the arrival time and the density of immigrants in locations where there are no permanent populations (McNeil, 1987), again providing advanced warning of potential outbreaks.

A new attractant for trapping both sexes of this pest, comprising a combination of acetic acid and 3-methyl-1-butanol, was found to be effective by Landolt and Higbee (2002). Also see Landolt and Hammond (2001).

The identification of the M. unipuncta female sex pheromone (Hill and Roelofs, 1980; McDonough et al., 1980; Farine et al., 1981), the elaboration of an effective lure (Steck et al., 1983) and field trials evaluating different trap parameters (Turgeon et al., 1983; Hendrix and Showers, 1990) have provided an additional tool for these monitoring networks. Captures of 50 males per trap in a night have been reported in epidemic years, whereas under endemic conditions it is less than 10 per trap in a week (Turgeon et al., 1983). In the event of high trap catches (a threshold of 10 moths per trap in a night is used in the province of Quebec, Canada), agronomists, extension personnel and farmers are warned to intensify visual inspections for both damage and larvae in high-risk areas.

Zones where lodging has occurred provide excellent microclimatic conditions for resting larvae, so high densities at these sites are a good indicator of future damage. However, decisions to intervene must be based on whole field evaluations, as within-field distribution may be highly variable.

The larval densities required to justify treatment will vary depending on the crop. For example, in Maryland (USA) the threshold is 1 larva per linear foot between rows in barley, but 3-4 larvae per linear foot for wheat. A higher density is tolerated in wheat because larvae tend to feed on the tips of seeds rather than cutting off the whole seed head. In Quebec, where damage is more frequent on maize, the thresholds for treatment are when densities exceed 1 larva for every four plants and an average density of 54-64 larvae per square metre.

Prevention and Control

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Insecticides

If insecticide treatments are used they must be applied before caterpillars reach the most destructive last instar. When larval densities exceeding the tolerated limits are detected through monitoring, carbaryl is often used.


Alternative Control Methods

Given the unpredictable nature of outbreaks of M. unipuncta, the establishment of preventative control methods has not received a great deal of attention. Although preliminary tests on the efficacy of an entomogenic nematode have been conducted (Kaya, 1985) and this has been further explored by Medeiros et al. (2000) and Rosa et al. (2002). Furthermore, trials examining the efficacy of inundative releases of the egg parasitoid Trichogramma minutum found that satisfactory control could be achieved. The releases were in July and August from 1987 to 1990 in the region around Arribanas (at 200 m altitude) on the island of San Miguel (Azores) (J Tavares, Department of Biology, University of the Azores, personal communication). At present, the costs of rearing and application prohibit the deployment of this parasitoid, but if rendered cost effective it would be a viable means of control, especially in sites where populations persist all year long.

Pilcher et al. (1997) tested genetically engineered wheat which is prone to infestation by Bacillus thuringiensis.

References

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