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Datasheet

Mamestra brassicae
(cabbage moth)

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Datasheet

Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 04 August 2022
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Documented Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Mamestra brassicae
  • Preferred Common Name
  • cabbage moth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Mamestra brassicae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a polyphagous insect that feeds on a wide variety of crops, with Brassica crops being relatively more affected than other host plants. Its origin seems to be Eurasian, coinciding wit...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); larva on a Brassica (cabbage) leaf. Note frass. West Midlands, England, UK. July 2014.
TitleLarva
CaptionMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); larva on a Brassica (cabbage) leaf. Note frass. West Midlands, England, UK. July 2014.
Copyright©Patrick Clement/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); larva on a Brassica (cabbage) leaf. Note frass. West Midlands, England, UK. July 2014.
LarvaMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); larva on a Brassica (cabbage) leaf. Note frass. West Midlands, England, UK. July 2014.©Patrick Clement/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. May 2017. Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. May 2017.
TitleAdult
CaptionMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. May 2017. Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. May 2017.
Copyright©Ben Sale/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. May 2017. Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. May 2017.
AdultMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. May 2017. Stevenage, Hertfordshire, UK. May 2017.©Ben Sale/via wikipedia - CC BY 2.0
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. A prominent spur on foretibia is characteristic of this genus. USA.
TitleDiagnostic character
CaptionMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. A prominent spur on foretibia is characteristic of this genus. USA.
Copyright©Hanna Royals/Screening Aids/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US
Mamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. A prominent spur on foretibia is characteristic of this genus. USA.
Diagnostic characterMamestra brassicae (cabbage moth); adult. A prominent spur on foretibia is characteristic of this genus. USA.©Hanna Royals/Screening Aids/USDA APHIS ITP/Bugwood.org - CC BY-NC 3.0 US

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Mamestra brassicae Linnaeus (1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • cabbage moth

Other Scientific Names

  • Barathra brassicae Linnaeus
  • Hypobarathra unicolor Marumo
  • Noctua albidilinea Haworth
  • Phalaena brassicae Linnaeus
  • Phalaena omicron Geoffray

International Common Names

  • English: cabbage armyworm
  • Spanish: oruga de la col
  • French: noctuelle des choux; noctuelle du chou

Local Common Names

  • Denmark: kalugle
  • Finland: kaaliyoekkoenen
  • Germany: Herzwurm; Kohleule
  • Italy: mamestra del cavolo; nottua del cavolo
  • Japan: yoto-musi
  • Netherlands: kooluil
  • Norway: kalfly
  • Sweden: kalfly

EPPO Code

  • BARABR (Mamestra brassicae)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Mamestra brassicae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) is a polyphagous insect that feeds on a wide variety of crops, with Brassica crops being relatively more affected than other host plants. Its origin seems to be Eurasian, coinciding with its distribution throughout the Palaearctic region from Europe to Japan and subtropical Asia. In Africa it has only been reported in Libya. Its rather restricted distribution indicates that the invasive potential of this insect is limited. However, adults have been shown to have the capacity to fly distances of up to 60 km with the help of wind.

Taxonomic Tree

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

Description

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Descriptions of each stage of the life cycle can be found in the books by Carter (1984) and Heath and Emmet (1979). The eggs have also been described by Korycinska (2012).

Eggs

The eggs are relatively small, hemispherical, ribbed and reticulate. They are whitish in colour when newly laid, but turn gradually to purplish-brown with a brown to purple micropyle and basal ring. A few hours before hatching they darken to greyish black. The eggs are laid singly in regular batches of up to 70-80 eggs, mainly on the undersides of leaves. Korycinkska (2012) has described the eggs of M. brassicae using stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy.

Larvae

There are six instars. First- and second-instar larvae are about 3-10 mm long, greenish and more or less translucent with black hairs on black warts. First-instar larvae have a black head capsule, but after the first moulting it turns light brown. The prolegs on the third and fourth abdominal segments are poorly developed in the first two or three instars. From the third instar, the larvae are pale green with yellowish intersegmental bands. The dorsal region turns gradually darker with each moult, and in the last instar the majority of the larvae are brownish-green or blackish-green.

Heath and Emmet (1979) described full-grown larvae. The body is about 50 mm long, elongate, and with a slight dorsal hump on abdominal segment 8. The head capsule is light brown, and the dorsal region of the body is from fairly bright green, through brownish green to almost black. The dorsal line is fine and black. On each side there is one sub-dorsal line of blackish bars. The spiracular line is broad and pale green or pale ochreous. The spiracles are white. The ventral region is yellowish-green.

Pupae

The pupae are elongate, 17-22 mm long, and reddish-brown and glossy. The wing- and limb-cases are finely sculptured. The abdominal segments are darker brown and evenly tapered, and there is a finely pitted anterior band on each segment. Segment 8 is sharply excavated to a narrow conical cremaster with two short apically hooked spines. Pupation takes place within flimsy cocoons in the soil (Heath and Emmet, 1979).

Adults

The adult moths have a wingspan of 34-50 mm. The forewings are mottled and may appear grey-brown, brown or blackish-brown, with variable reddish-brown scaling. Sub-basal, antemedian and postmedian lines are inconspicuous and slightly paler than the background colour, and have a fine dark edge. A kidney-shaped stigmata outlined in black with a whitish distal margin and a less clearly defined proximal margin, is placed near the centre of each forewing. The subterminal line is very variable. When present it is whitish and irregular, with two angular projections (like a W). The hindwings are fuscous and generally paler than the forewings. They are light greyish towards the base, and have a darker terminal shade. The fringe has a greyish central line. The forelegs have a characteristic brown, slightly curved, apically pointed tibial spur. Like other species in the subfamily Hadeninae, M. brassicae adults have hairy eyes (Seitz, 1913).

Distribution

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Mamestra brassicae is present throughout the Palaearctic region from Europe to Japan and subtropical Asia. Its main distribution is the latitudes from 30°N to 70°N (Ogaard, 1983; Finch and Thompson, 1992; Turnock and Carl, 1995; Wu et al., 2015). In Africa it has only been reported in Libya (EPPO, 2022). The species is not present in America and Oceania (APPPC, 1987Zhang, 1994; EPPO, 2022). The species can move up to 60 km, typically with the help of wind (Wu et al., 2015; Guo et al., 2020). According to Finch and Thomson (1992), M. brassicae is abundant throughout Central Europe and temperate Asia. Ogaard (1983) states that the species is present mainly between 30°N and 70°N. The species is abundant all over Denmark, and in southern Scandinavia and Finland (Skou, 1991). In Norway, M. brassicae occurs as a pest up to 62°N (Johansen, 1997b). The species is not found in Iceland.

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: 07 Jul 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

LibyaPresent

Asia

ArmeniaPresent
AzerbaijanPresent
ChinaPresent, Localized
-HeilongjiangPresent
-JilinPresent
-LiaoningPresent
-ShandongPresent
-ShanxiPresent
-TibetPresent
GeorgiaPresent
IndiaPresent, Localized
-Jammu and KashmirPresent
-PunjabPresent
IranPresent
JapanPresent
KazakhstanPresent
KyrgyzstanPresent
LebanonPresent
MongoliaPresent
North KoreaPresent
PakistanPresent
South KoreaPresent
SyriaPresent
TaiwanPresent
TurkeyPresent
UzbekistanPresent

Europe

AustriaPresent, Widespread
BelarusPresent
BelgiumPresent
BulgariaPresent, Widespread
CzechiaPresent, Widespread
CzechoslovakiaPresent, Widespread
DenmarkPresent
EstoniaPresent
FinlandPresent, Localized
FrancePresent
GermanyPresent, Widespread
HungaryPresent, Widespread
IrelandPresent
ItalyPresent
LatviaPresent
LithuaniaPresent
MaltaPresent
MoldovaPresent
NetherlandsPresent
NorwayPresent
PolandPresent
PortugalPresent, Widespread
RomaniaPresent
RussiaPresent, Localized
-Eastern SiberiaPresent
-Russia (Europe)Present
-Russian Far EastPresent
-Western SiberiaPresent
SerbiaPresent
Serbia and MontenegroPresent, Widespread
SloveniaPresent
SpainPresent
-Canary IslandsPresent
SwedenPresent, Widespread
SwitzerlandPresent, Widespread
UkrainePresent
United KingdomPresent
-EnglandPresent

Risk of Introduction

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Mamestra brassicae appears to be quite restricted to its present distribution. It does not seem to be spreading further. However, the species can fly distances of up to 60 km, typically with the help of wind (Wu et al., 2015; Guo et al., 2020).

Habitat

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Skou (1991) states that the species is found mostly in cultivated/agricultural areas. In an experiment including monoculture and biculture plots with different Brassica oleracea genotypes and set up with different spatial heterogeneity, M. brassicae showed clear preferences for certain genotypes, but did not seem to respond to spatial heterogeneity and patch size (Hambäck et al., 2009; Bukovinszky et al., 2010). However, predation and parasitism rates of M. brassicae larvae are positively correlated with proximity to woody habitats and pasture areas, respectively (Bianchi et al., 2005).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural

Hosts/Species Affected

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Mamestra brassicae larvae are extremely polyphagous, although they prefer Brassica crops (Heath and Emmet, 1979Carter, 1984; Skou, 1991Finch and Thomson, 1992; Popova, 1993); beetroots, legumes, lettuces, onions and potatoes are also frequently reported to be host plants for M. brassicae (Ogaard, 1983Injac and Krnjajic, 1989Finch and Thomson, 1992Zhang, 1994; Lemic et al., 2016). The species is found on many other vegetable crops, and also in ornamental plants and deciduous trees (Heath and Emmet, 1979; Carter, 1984; Harvey et al., 2016; Campbell, 2019).

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContextReferences
AlliumLiliaceaeMain
Allium cepa (onion)LiliaceaeMain
Allium sativum (garlic)LiliaceaeMain
Aquilegia vulgarisRanunculaceaeOther
Barbarea vulgaris (common wintercress (UK))Other
Leur et al. (2008), Christensen et al. (2019)
Beta vulgaris var. saccharifera (sugarbeet)ChenopodiaceaeMain
Robinson et al. (2010), Lemic et al. (2016)
BrassicaBrassicaceaeMain
Seljåsen and Meadow (2006), Cuc et al. (2007), Metspalu et al. (2010), Robinson et al. (2010)
Brassica napusBrassicaceaeOther
Brassica oleracea (cabbages, cauliflowers)BrassicaceaeMain
Güçlü et al. (2006), Robinson et al. (2010), Beck et al. (2014)
Brassica oleracea var. botrytis (cauliflower)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. capitata (cabbage)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera (Brussels sprouts)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes (kohlrabi)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. italica (broccoli)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. viridis (collards)BrassicaceaeMain
Brassica oleracea var. viridis (collards)BrassicaceaeOther
Brassica rapa (field mustard)BrassicaceaeMain
Bryonia alba (white bryony)CucurbitaceaeOther
Calendula officinalis (Pot marigold)AsteraceaeOther
Callistephus chinensis (China aster)AsteraceaeOther
Capsicum (peppers)SolanaceaeOther
Capsicum annuum (bell pepper)SolanaceaeOther
Chrysanthemum (daisy)AsteraceaeOther
Cucurbita pepo (marrow)CucurbitaceaeOther
Dianthus caryophyllus (carnation)CaryophyllaceaeOther
Fagus (beeches)FagaceaeOther
Fragaria (strawberry)RosaceaeOther
Glycine max (soyabean)FabaceaeMain
Helianthus annuus (sunflower)AsteraceaeOther
Humulus lupulus (hop)CannabaceaeOther
Hyoscyamus niger (black henbane)SolanaceaeOther
Hyssopus officinalis (Hyssop)EulophidaeOther
Lactuca sativa (lettuce)AsteraceaeMain
Larix (larches)PinaceaeOther
Linum usitatissimum (flax)Other
Malus domestica (apple)RosaceaeOther
Medicago sativa (lucerne)FabaceaeOther
NicotianaSolanaceaeMain
Nicotiana rustica (wild tobacco)SolanaceaeOther
Nicotiana tabacum (tobacco)SolanaceaeMain
Phaseolus (beans)FabaceaeMain
Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)FabaceaeMain
Pisum sativum (pea)FabaceaeMain
Plantago major (broad-leaved plantain)PlantaginaceaeOther
Prunus persica (peach)RosaceaeOther
Prunus salicina (Japanese plum)RosaceaeOther
Quercus (oaks)FagaceaeOther
Raphanus sativus (radish)BrassicaceaeOther
Rheum rhaponticumPolygonaceaeOther
Rosa (roses)RosaceaeOther
Rudbeckia (coneflower)AsteraceaeOther
Rumex acetosa (sour dock)PolygonaceaeOther
Salix (willows)SalicaceaeOther
Silene chalcedonicaCaryophyllaceaeOther
Silene latifolia subsp. alba (white campion)CaryophyllaceaeOther
Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)SolanaceaeMain
Solanum tuberosum (potato)SolanaceaeMain
Spinacia oleracea (spinach)ChenopodiaceaeOther
Trifolium repens (white clover)FabaceaeOther
Vicia faba (faba bean)FabaceaeOther
Vitis vinifera (grapevine)VitaceaeOther
Zea mays (maize)PoaceaeMain

Growth Stages

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Flowering stage, Fruiting stage, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

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Small larvae feed on the underside of the external leaves where they make small perforations. As the larvae grow older, the feeding holes become larger. Severe infestations of small larvae may rapidly skeletonize the leaves, and can sometimes destroy small plants. Older larvae tunnel into the heart of the plants. They leave considerable amounts of faeces, which favour growth of decaying bacteria and fungi. Most crop losses caused by the larvae occur as a result of boring and fouling rather from the amount of plant tissue eaten. Because of this, even slight infestations of older larvae could be damaging in crops such as heading cabbage, which can become unmarketable (Heath and Emmet, 1979Finch and Thomson, 1992). In soyabean, feeding by M. brassicae larvae may destroy young buds, leading to distorted growth; the larvae also bore into the pods and feed on the seeds (Lihnell, 1940). In ornamentals such as dahlia, chrysanthemum and rose, M. brassicae larvae feed on leaves, buds and petals, and they may bore into the fruits in fruiting crops such as tomato.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Fruit / external feeding
Fruit / frass visible
Fruit / internal feeding
Growing point / external feeding
Inflorescence / external feeding
Inflorescence / frass visible
Inflorescence / rot
Leaves / external feeding
Leaves / frass visible
Leaves / internal feeding
Leaves / rot
Stems / external feeding
Vegetative organs / external feeding
Vegetative organs / frass visible
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / frass visible
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Mamestra brassicae has 31 chromosomes, which have been defined by Sahara et al. (2013). Expression sequence tags (EST) and fosmid libraries have also been constructed for this insect (Kamimura et al., 2012). Additional genetic studies have been conducted with M. brassicae, for example, to characterize odorant receptors and fatty acid transporters (Park et al., 2008; Vogt et al., 2009; Köblös et al., 2018).

Reproductive Biology

The adult moths emerge from pupae in the soil. Shortly after emergence the moths mate, and the females deposit their eggs in regular batches of up to 70-80 eggs, mainly on the undersides of leaves. Egg deposition is unimodally distributed with a more or less distinct peak a few days after the onset of the oviposition period (Johansen, 1997a). The mean and maximum number of eggs per female is reported to be about 500-1500 and 2000-3000, respectively (see, for example, Noll, 1961Poitout and Bues, 1982; Ogaard, 1983Johansen, 1997a). Mean batch size is in the range of 14-37 eggs (Poitout and Bues, 1982Hommes, 1983Injac and Krnjajic, 1989Johansen, 1996b). Number of eggs per batch is higher for young females than old females (Rygg and Kjos, 1975). Fecundity is affected by several factors, such as genetic constitution, development in the preceding immature stages, host plant, nourishment of the larvae and viral diseases (Noll, 1961).

The effect of temperature on fecundity is described by Johansen (1997a). The number of eggs laid per day increased from 27 at 11°C to 117 at 23°C. The mean egg deposition period was found to be 11-38 days within this temperature range. The egg deposition period becomes prolonged at low temperatures (10-13.5°C) (Noll, 1961Johansen, 1997a), and is delayed or inhibited at temperatures higher than 30°C (Noll, 1961).

The eggs normally hatch in 6-14 days, and the larvae immediately start to feed on the leaves. Young larvae feed gregariously. In field experiments with white cabbage, Johansen (1997a) found that the larvae started to spread all over the host plant within a few hours after hatching. After 1-2 days they were found on the nearest neighbouring plants and rows, and they continued to disperse radially from the original infested plant throughout the larval stage. In the first three or four instars, the larvae feed mainly on the external leaves. From the fifth instar they display a negative phototaxis (Omino et al., 1973) and move into the heart of the plants. Nearly full-grown larvae are often concealed in the soil during daytime and enter the plants to feed at night. Larval development normally takes 4-7 weeks. Mature larvae leave the plants to pupate in thin cocoons in the soil at a depth of about 3-5 cm (Rygg and Kjos, 1975). Hibernation and aestivation take place in the pupal stage (Goto et al., 2001; Yamada et al. 2017).

Physiology and Phenology

Depending on the climate, M. brassicae has one to three generations per year. In Central Europe and most parts of southern Europe two or three generations occur, whereas in the northern parts of the distribution area M. brassicae is univoltine or partially bivoltine (Ogaard, 1983Turnock and Carl, 1995). Skou (1991) states that two or three generations occur in Denmark. Degree-day calculations indicate that the species may be partly bivoltine in Denmark and Norway in warm years (Johansen, 1996b; Ogaard, 1983). In the UK, the species is also reported to be univoltine (Heath and Emmet, 1979) or partially bivoltine (Finch and Thompson, 1992). The species is bivoltine in Hokkaido in Japan (Tsutsui et al., 1988), Belgrade (Injac and Krnjajic, 1989), Moldova and other southern regions of the former USSR (Filippov, 1982), Germany (Hommes, 1983Kahrer, 1984) and France (Poitout and Bues, 1982). The onset of the flight of the first generation in a growing season will vary according to the climatic conditions. In north-western Europe the first adults emerge in May-June (Finch and Thomson, 1992Johansen, 1996aSkou, 1991). In regions where M. brassicae is bivoltine, the adult flight of the first generation usually occurs in May-June and the second flight in August-September (see, for example, Poitout and Bues, 1982Hommes, 1983). The flight period is often extended, and as a result, the generations will overlap in areas where more than one generation occurs. Thus, adults may be encountered throughout the growing season, with one to three more or less distinct peaks (see, for example Poitout and Bues, 1982; Hommes, 1983; Ogaard, 1983Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). Flight and oviposition seem to be inhibited by heavy rainfall (Johansen, 1996b). Within a population, eggs are deposited over a period of several weeks. As a consequence, the age structure found on infested crops may consist of a mixture of eggs and different larval instars.

Longevity

The longevity of the adults is approximately 23 days (Johansen et al., 2007).

Activity Patterns

The species is nocturnal (Heath and Emmet, 1979; Rojas et al., 2001), so emergence from pupae, flight, mating activity, egg deposition and feeding mostly take place during the dark period.

Population Size and Density

Mamestra brassicae larvae can be found in variable densities; in cole crops densities typically range between 0.1 and 0.7 larvae per plant (Cartea et al., 2009a; Hambäck et al., 2009; Bukovinszky et al., 2010).

Nutrition

According to Finch and Thompson (1992) the size of the adults is largely governed by the nutritional value of the host plant on which the larvae have been living.

Environmental Requirements

The effect of temperature on development has been described by Ogaard (1983)Injac and Krjajic (1989) and Johansen (1997a). Johansen (1997a) and Ogaard (1983) have established lower developmental thresholds and thermal requirements for different developmental stages for a Norwegian and a Danish M. brassicae population, respectively. Mean developmental times were found to be 7.6-29.5 days for eggs, 39.8-98.3 days for larvae (temperature range 10.5-18.5°C), 18.2-96.9 days for pupae, and 3.3-9.4 days for the preoviposition period (temperature range 10.0-23.0°C) (Johansen, 1997a). Egg to adult development takes about 6 weeks at 25°C (Ogaard, 1983), 9 weeks at 20°C and 15 weeks at 15°C (Johansen, 1997a). The supercooling point of diapausing and non-diapausing pupae of M. brassicae has been found to be -20°C, but is reduced in contact with moisture (Tsutsui et al., 1988).

Diapause is facultative and occurs in the pupal stage; it is regulated mainly by temperature and photoperiod (Goto et al., 2001; Yamada et al., 2017). Winter diapause is induced by a function of low temperature and decreasing day length (Goto et al., 2001; Denlinger, 2002). In areas with hot and dry summers, a summer dormancy (aestivation) is induced by high temperature and a long photoperiod (see, for example, Poitout and Bues, 1982Grüner and Sauer, 1988). The critical day length triggering winter diapause and aestivation is found to be about 14-16 h. The temperature affects the response level and critical day length (see, for example, Furunishi et al., 1982; Ogaard, 1983Grüner and Sauer, 1988). However, the factors inducing diapause seem to differ according to the climatic zone. For example, in northern Russia, the diapause seems to be more dependent on temperature than day length (Bonnemaison, 1965). The time of adult eclosion from the pupal stage is mainly dependent on temperature (Tanaka et al., 2013).

Johansen (1997a) found that the weight of the pupae decreased with declining temperature during the larval period within the range 10.5-18.0°C. In laboratory experiments, larval mortality increased with decreasing temperature within the range 10.5-18.0°C and eggs and larvae did not survive at 8.5°C (Johansen, 1997a). In the field, mortality has often been found to be very high during the larval stage (Hommes, 1983Johansen, 1996b; 1997b). Winter mortality was also found to be very high. The generation survival ratio was 0.0016-0.0041 over a 5-year period (Johansen, 1996b; 1997a, b). Life-tables for a Norwegian M. brassicae population on white cabbage have been constructed and analysed (Johansen, 1996b).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
C - Temperate/Mesothermal climate Preferred Average temp. of coldest month > 0°C and < 18°C, mean warmest month > 10°C
D - Continental/Microthermal climate Tolerated Continental/Microthermal climate (Average temp. of coldest month < 0°C, mean warmest month > 10°C)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
30°N to 70°N

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) 8.5

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Agonum dorsale Predator
Apotomopterus dehaani Predator Arthropods|Larvae
Aspergillus niger Antagonist
Athrycia curvinervis Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis aizawai Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis caucasicus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis entomocidus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis galleriae Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. dendrolimus Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Bacillus thuringiensis thuringiensis Pathogen Arthropods|Larvae
Beauveria bassiana Pathogen
Blondelia nigripes Parasite Arthropods|Larvae Poland cabbages
Bracon hebetor Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Campoletis chlorideae Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Campoletis maculipes Parasite
Carcelia lucorum Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Chrysoperla carnea Predator
Chrysoperla harrisii Predator Poland
Coccinella septempunctata Predator
Compsilura concinnata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae Poland cabbages
Conomorium patulum Parasite
Copidosoma agrotis Parasite
Copidosoma floridanum Parasite Eggs
Cotesia glomeratus Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Cotesia ruficrus Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Diadegma fenestrale Parasite
Dolichovespula media Predator
Encarsia porteri Parasite Eggs
Entomophaga aulicae Pathogen
Erynia gammae Pathogen
Erynia radicans Pathogen
Eulophus pennicornis Parasite
Euplectrus bicolor Parasite
Eurithia consobrina Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Eutanyacra picta Parasite
Exetastes atrator Parasite
Exorista fasciata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Exorista japonica Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Exorista larvarum Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Gonia picea Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Granulosis virus Pathogen
Harpalus rufipes Predator
Hyposoter didymator Parasite
Lecanicillium lecanii Pathogen
Linnaemya picta Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Meloboris leucaniae Parasite
Microgaster tuberculifera Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Microplitis marshalli Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Microplitis mediator Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Muscina pabulorum Predator
Muscina stabulans Predator
Nemoraea pellucida Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Nilea hortulana Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Nomuraea rileyi Pathogen
Nucleopolyhedrosis virus Pathogen
Ophion obscuratus Parasite
Orius sauteri Predator
Paecilomyces farinosus Pathogen
Paecilomyces fumosoroseus Pathogen
Peribaea tibialis Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Phryxe nemea Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Phryxe vulgaris Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Pimpla hypochondriaca Parasite
Podisus maculiventris Predator
Propylea quatuordecimpunctata Predator
Pseudogonia rufifrons Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Pterostichus melanarius Predator
Serratia liquefaciens Pathogen
Siphona cristata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Steinernema feltiae Parasite
Sturmia bella Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Tachina nupta Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Trichogramma aurosum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma brassicae Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma buesi Parasite Eggs Bulgaria sugarbeet
Trichogramma chilonis Parasite Eggs Germany Brassica
Trichogramma danubiense Parasite
Trichogramma dendrolimi Parasite Eggs Germany Brassica
Trichogramma domalae Parasite Eggs Bulgaria sugarbeet
Trichogramma evanescens Parasite Eggs Bulgaria; China; France; Germany; Netherlands; Poland; USSR Brassica; Brussels sprouts
Trichogramma leptoparameron Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma leucaniae Parasite Eggs China
Trichogramma maidis Parasite Eggs Bulgaria; Netherlands Brussels sprouts; cabbages; sugarbeet
Trichogramma mirabile Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma misiae Parasite Eggs Bulgaria sugarbeet
Trichogramma piceum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma pretiosum Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma principium Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma rhenana Parasite Eggs
Trichogramma rhenanum Parasite Eggs Bulgaria sugarbeet
Vairimorpha antheraeae Pathogen
Voria ruralis Parasite Arthropods|Larvae
Vulgichneumon leucaniae Parasite
Vulgichneumon saturatorius Parasite
Winthemia quadripustulata Parasite Arthropods|Larvae

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Mamestra brassicae has a wide range of natural enemies, but their effectiveness in suppressing this insect is variable. However, natural enemies may play an important role in population regulation, and measures that preserve and help the build-up of natural enemies should be integrated into pest management programmes and production practices. For instance, intercropping cabbage with different flowering crops has been found to increase the number of natural enemies (Theunissen et al., 1992). Only a few of the natural enemies of M. brassicae have been used commercially, such as the egg parasitoid Trichogramma. Different species of Trichogramma (e.g. Trichogramma evanescens, Trichogramma chilonis and Trichogramma dendrolimi) have been tested to control M. brassicae; a relatively high summer temperature and dense host population is required to achieve a high parasitization rate by these parasitoids (Finch and Thompson, 1992). The parasitization rates that can be achieved are variable, but rates of parasitism of up to almost 100% have been reported (see, for example, Filippov, 1982Kahrer, 1984Finch and Thompson, 1992). Other parasitoids that have been studied for biocontrol of M. brassicae include Eulophus pennicornis (Veire, 1993; Butaye and Degheele, 1995), Meteorus gyrator [Meteorus pendulus] (Smethurst et al., 2004), Microplitis mediator (Belz et al., 2014) and Telenomus laeviceps (Barloggio et al., 2019).

The parasitoids Trichogramma semblidis (Trichogrammatidae), M. mediator and Aleiodes sp. (Braconidae), Voria ruralis, Siphona cristata (Tachinidae), the predator Chrysoperla carnea (Chrysopidae) and the entomopathogenic fungus Erynia virescens (Entomophthorales) have been recorded as natural enemies of M. brassicae in Norway, but none of them has been found to have great impact on the population density of the species (Carl et al., 1986Turnock and Carl, 1995Klingen et al., 1996Johansen, 1996b; 1997b). However, Johansen (1997b) and Hommes (1983) suggested that predators may be a noteworthy mortality factor in Norwegian and German cabbage fields, respectively. According to Ogaard (1983) no effective natural enemies have been found in Denmark.

Forster et al. (1992) and Peters (1992) investigated the parasitoid complex in cabbage crops in Germany. They found that M. mediator was the dominant parasitoid species, while Trichogramma spp., Campoletis annulata, Aleiodes borealis, Rogas sp. (Braconidae) and E. pennicornis (Eulophidae) were found more rarely and in lower numbers. E. pennicornis has also been found parasitizing M. brassicae in sweet pepper crop grown at a commercial glasshouse in Belgium (Veire, 1993). Turnock and Carl (1995) reviewed literature on parasitoids of M. brassicae in Central Europe, and found that the species with the highest constancy and abundance were M. mediator, Exetastes cinctipes [Exetastes atrator] (Ichnumonidae), Siphona flavifrons and Eurithia consobrina (Tachinidae), in that order. E. consobrina was the dominant parasitoid of M. brassicae in the Moscow region, and in this and other parts of the former USSR where M. brassicae is univoltine, this parasitoid has been found to infest 28-88% of the larvae. In the Kiev region where M. brassicae is bivoltine, 64-94% of the larvae are parasitized.

The polyphagous predators Philonthus atratus (Staphylinidae) and Bembidion tetracolum (Carabidae) have been found to feed on M. brassicae eggs, while Pterostichus melanarius and Harpalus rufipes (Carabidae) fed on both eggs and larvae of M. brassicae in non-choice laboratory experiments (Johansen, 1997b).

Mamestra brassicae larvae can be controlled by baculoviruses (Poitout and Bues, 1982; Geissler et al., 1991Finch and Thompson, 1992) and Bacillus thuringiensis (Filippov, 1982; Ter-Simonjan et al., 1982Terytze and Terytze, 1987Collier et al., 1996). The bacterial or viral preparations should be applied when the larvae are small. Commercial products of B. thuringiensis and baculoviruses are available in some countries. Laboratory studies in France have indicated that the entomopathogenic fungi Paecilomyces fumosoroseus [Cordyceps fumosorosea] and Nomuraea rileyi are potentially valuable biological control agents (Maniania and Fargues, 1992). The entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae can also lower damage by M. brassicae larvae (Beck et al., 2014).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Mamestra brassicae can fly distances of up to 60 km, typically with the help of wind (Wu et al., 2015; Guo et al., 2020).

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Leaves Arthropods/Larvae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Leaves Arthropods/Eggs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx Arthropods/Larvae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx Arthropods/Eggs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) Arthropods/Larvae Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Fruits (inc. pods) Arthropods/Eggs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
Roots
True seeds (inc. grain)
Wood

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Crop production Negative

Impact

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In central parts of the distribution area M. brassicae is a serious pest, mainly on Brassica crops, beetroots and legumes, but also on other vegetable crops (see, for example, Heath and Emmet, 1979; Filippov, 1982; Poitout and Bues, 1982; Hommes 1983; Øgaard, 1983; Kahrer, 1984; Injac and Krnjajic, 1989; Finch and Thomson, 1992, Van de Steene, 1994). In these areas, the greatest damage is usually caused by the larvae of the second generation which are often more numerous than the first generation (Kahrer, 1984; Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). In the northern areas (Scandinavia and Finland) the occurrence as a serious pest is more sporadic (Skou, 1991; Johansen, 1997b).

In cabbage crops in Germany, M. brassicae is a main pest with regular occurrence. In field experiments, 27-98% of the plants in different cabbage crops were infested (Hommes, 1983). According to Filippov (1982) larval infestation of cabbage in Moldova leads to harvest losses of 8-80%. In a study of white cabbage in Norway, weight losses due to larval damage were 10-13% (Rygg and Kjos, 1975). In Belgium, insecticides are often applied to Brussels sprouts every 2-3 weeks to control M. brassicae larvae (Van de Steene, 1994).

Impact: Economic

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Small larvae feed on the underside of the external leaves where they make small perforations. As the larvae grow older, the feeding holes become larger. Severe infestations of small larvae may rapidly skeletonize the leaves, and can sometimes destroy small plants. Older larvae tunnel into the heart of the plants. They leave considerable amounts of faeces, which favour growth of decaying bacteria and fungi. Most crop losses caused by the larvae occur as a result of boring and fouling rather from the amount of plant tissue eaten. Because of this, even slight infestations of older larvae could be damaging in crops such as heading cabbage, which can become unmarketable (Heath and Emmet, 1979Finch and Thomson, 1992). In soyabean, feeding by M. brassicae larvae may destroy young buds, leading to distorted growth; the larvae also bore into the pods and feed on the seeds (Lihnell, 1940). In ornamentals such as dahlia, chrysanthemum and rose, M. brassicae larvae feed on leaves, buds and petals, and they may bore into the fruits in fruiting crops such as tomato.

In central parts of the distribution area M. brassicae is a serious pest, mainly on Brassica crops, beetroots and legumes, but also on other vegetable crops (see, for example, Heath and Emmet, 1979Filippov, 1982Poitout and Bues, 1982Hommes, 1983; Ogaard, 1983Kahrer, 1984Injac and Krnjajic, 1989Finch and Thomson, 1992; Steene, 1994). In these areas, the greatest damage is usually caused by the larvae of the second generation, which often occur in higher densities than the first generation (Kahrer, 1984Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). In the northern areas (Scandinavia and Finland) the occurrence as a serious pest is more sporadic (Skou, 1991Johansen, 1997b).

In field experiments in Germany, 27-98% of the plants in different cabbage crops were infested by M. brassicae and it was the main pest (Hommes, 1983). According to Filippov (1982), larval infestation of cabbage in Moldova leads to harvest losses of 8-80%. In a study of white cabbage in Norway, cabbage weight losses due to M. brassicae larval damage were 10-13% (Rygg and Kjos, 1975).

Impact: Environmental

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The impact of this species has been studied mostly in agricultural settings.

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Has a broad native range
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
Impact outcomes
  • Host damage
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Negatively impacts animal/plant collections
  • Damages animal/plant products
Impact mechanisms
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing

Diagnosis

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Korycinska (2012) has described the eggs of M. brassicae using stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy. The morphology of the different life stages of the insect has also been described (Heath and Emmet, 1979; Carter, 1984).

Detection and Inspection

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Pheromone traps can be used to detect and monitor the populations of the insect (see, for example, Terytze and Adam, 1981Poitout and Bues, 1982Hommes, 1983; Veire and Dirinck, 1986Terytze et al., 1987Bues et al., 1988Injac and Krnjajic, 1989Johansen, 1996a). Pheromone traps have been found to be more effective than light traps in catching the first adults of the first generation (Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). At ports of entry, Korycinska (2012) has described the eggs of M. brassicae using stereomicroscopy and scanning electron microscopy.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The adults resemble many other dull-coloured members of the Noctuidae. Identification of adult noctuids is often done on the basis of male genitalia. Some similar species (adults) can be distinguished by:

Mythimna pallens: no tibial spur on foreleg

Discestra trifolii [Hadula trifolii]: no tibial spur on foreleg and smaller size than M. brassicae

Lacanobia w-latinum: no tibial spur on foreleg

Manilkara zapota: glabrous eyes and no tibial spur on foreleg

Apamea spp.: glabrous eyes and no tibial spur on foreleg

It is difficult to distinguish between larvae from different noctuid species, especially in the youngest instars. See Heath and Emmet (1979) or Skinner (1998) for full description of the larvae.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Control

Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods

Damage to early cabbage can be reduced by early planting of the seedlings, so the development of marketable heads occurs before the mass emergence of larvae (Filippov, 1982).

Autumn ploughing has been found to increase winter mortality of M. brassicae pupae in Japan (Tsutsui et al., 1988); this is probably the result of factors such as increased predation, mechanical damage and exposure to low temperature. Filippov (1982) found that summer harrowing, ploughing after harvesting, and early autumn ploughing destroyed about 70-90% of the pupae.

Nets and fleeces prevent damage from M. brassicae provided there are no pupae in the soil when the crop covers are applied (Steene et al., 1992).

Intercropping has been found to decrease populations of M. brassicae in cabbage and Brussels sprouts (Theunissen and Ouden, 1980Theunissen et al., 1992; 1995; Wiech, 1996Finch and Kienegger, 1997Brandsæter et al., 1998).

Host Plant Resistance

An Australian cauliflower line has been found to be resistant to infestation of M. brassicae in the Netherlands (Finch and Thompson, 1992). Different varieties of white and red cabbage and Savoy cabbage differ in susceptibility to M. brassicae; red cabbage has been found to be less infested with larvae than white cabbage and Savoy cabbage (Hommes, 1983). A red-foliaged variety of Brussels sprouts has also been found to show some resistance against M. brassicae (Dunn and Kempton, 1976). Some varieties of cabbage and kale have been identified as showing some resistance to M. brassicae (Cartea et al., 2009b; 2010). High glucosinolate content is a resistance factor that slows down the feeding and development of M. brassicae larvae (Badenes-Pérez and Cartea, 2021).

Biological Control

Mamestra brassicae has a wide range of natural enemies, but their effectiveness in suppressing this insect is variable. However, natural enemies may play an important role in population regulation, and measures that preserve and help the build-up of natural enemies should be integrated into pest management programmes and production practices. For instance, intercropping cabbage with different flowering crops has been found to increase the number of natural enemies (Theunissen et al., 1992). Only a few of the natural enemies of M. brassicae have been used commercially, such as the egg parasitoid Trichogramma. Different species of Trichogramma (e.g. Trichogramma evanescens, Trichogramma chilonis and Trichogramma dendrolimi) have been tested to control M. brassicae; a relatively high summer temperature and dense host population is required to achieve a high parasitization rate by these parasitoids (Finch and Thompson, 1992). The parasitization rates that can be achieved are variable, but rates of parasitism of up to almost 100% have been reported (see, for example, Filippov, 1982Kahrer, 1984Finch and Thompson, 1992). Other parasitoids that have been studied for biocontrol of M. brassicae include Eulophus pennicornis (Veire, 1993; Butaye and Degheele, 1995), Meteorus gyrator [Meteorus pendulus] (Smethurst et al., 2004), Microplitis mediator (Belz et al., 2014) and Telenomus laeviceps (Barloggio et al., 2019).

Mamestra brassicae larvae can be controlled by baculoviruses (Poitout and Bues, 1982; Geissler et al., 1991Finch and Thompson, 1992) and Bacillus thuringiensis (Filippov, 1982; Ter-Simonjan et al., 1982Terytze and Terytze, 1987Collier et al., 1996). The bacterial or viral preparations should be applied when the larvae are small. Commercial products of B. thuringiensis and baculoviruses are available in some countries. Laboratory studies in France have indicated that the entomopathogenic fungi Paecilomyces fumosoroseus [Cordyceps fumosorosea] and Nomuraea rileyi are potentially valuable biological control agents (Maniania and Fargues, 1992). The entomopathogenic nematode Steinernema carpocapsae can also lower damage by M. brassicae larvae (Beck et al., 2012).

Chemical Control

In areas where two generations of M. brassicae occur during the growing season, several treatments with insecticides are often needed to control M. brassicae larvae (see, for example, Steene, 1994). In northern countries, where M. brassicae is univoltine, a single properly timed insecticide treatment may be sufficient (Finch and Thompson, 1992Johansen, 1996a). In Belgium, insecticides are often applied to Brussels sprouts every 2-3 weeks to control M. brassicae larvae (Steene, 1994).

To be effective, insecticides must be applied when the larvae are small (less than 12-20 mm, first- to fourth-instar larvae) (Rygg and Kjos, 1975Kahrer, 1984Finch and Thompson, 1992). Older larvae bore into the heart of the plants and are protected from the treatment. Older larvae may also be more resistant to insecticides than younger larvae (Rygg and Kjos, 1975; Kahrer, 1984; Steene, 1994). Insecticides should be applied about 10 days after peak egg deposition (Kahrer, 1984). Thus, it is necessary to monitor the occurrence of M. brassicae (see Field Monitoring section below).

Insecticides currently in use are within the groups of organophosphates, pyrethroids, carbamates, organochlorines and insect growth regulators. Formulations of natural plant extracts have been tested and great attention has been paid to seed extracts from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), which have shown promising results for the control of M. brassicae larvae (Schmutterer, 1985Karelina et al., 1992Mordue et al., 1993Meadow and Seljåsen, 1996; Seljåsen and Meadow, 2006). Narrow-spectrum insecticides should be chosen when possible to preserve and encourage the build-up of natural enemies.

Monitoring and Surveillance (incl. remote sensing)

Timing of chemical and biological control tactics is essential to achieve a good control of M. brassicae, because insecticides and biological agents must be applied at the vulnerable stage. Temperature-dependent development and the lack of synchrony of the different life stages make precise timing difficult.

Pheromone traps can be used to detect and monitor the populations of the insect (see, for example, Terytze and Adam, 1981Poitout and Bues, 1982Hommes, 1983Veire and Dirinck, 1986Terytze et al., 1987Bues et al., 1988Injac and Krnjajic, 1989Johansen, 1996a). Light traps can be used to monitor the flight of M. brassicae (Hommes, 1983Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). The adults are also attracted to sugar (Skou, 1991). Sex pheromone traps have been found to be more effective than light traps in catching the first adults of the first generation (Injac and Krnjajic, 1989). Sex pheromone dispensers and traps are commercially available.

A degree-day model for the prediction of field occurrence of adults, eggs and small larvae, and favourable spraying time has been developed (Johansen, 1996a). The prediction model is implemented as a voice board response system for prognosis and advice for growers in Norway.

Hommes (1983) developed preliminary action thresholds for the different developmental stages of M. brassicae. Damage thresholds for injurious lepidopterous larvae on cabbage have been used in several European countries (Hommes et al., 1988).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Information on the maximum temperatures in which the insect can survive and develop was not available.

References

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APPPC, 1987. Insect pests of economic significance affecting major crops of the countries in Asia and the Pacific region. In: Technical Document No. 135. Bangkok, Thailand: Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific region (RAPA).

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Barloggio, G., Tamm, L., Nagel, P., Luka, H., 2019. Selective flowers to attract and enhance Telenomus laeviceps (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae): a released biocontrol agent of Mamestra brassicae (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Bulletin of Entomological Research, 109(2):160-168. DOI: 10.1017/S0007485318000287

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