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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Characters to Differentiate Adult Males of the Corn Earworm, Helicoverpa Zea (Boddie) and the Old World Bollworm, Helicoverpa Armigera (Hübner)(lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Heliothinae)

item Pogue, Michael

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 14, 2004
Publication Date: December 13, 2004
Citation: Pogue, M.G. 2004. Characters to differentiate adult males of the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) and the old world bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner)(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Heliothinae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 97:1222-1226

Interpretive Summary: Cutworm moths are major agricultural pests causing billions of dollars of damage annually. Two of the most important agricultural pests in the world are the corn earworm and Old World bollworm. These species were thought to be the same until 1953 when good characters were found to indicate that they were different species. The Old World bollworm is found throughout the Old World and is the major pest of maize, sorghum, and cotton. It is a real threat to North American agriculture if it is ever introduced. Pheromone traps collect only male moths and are being run in corn and cotton growing areas of the United States to try to detect the Old World bollworm. The only characters that are useful to distinguish the moths collected in these traps are those at the end of the abdomen and in the male genitalia. This paper characterizes these differences, discusses the confusing names that these species have had during their history, and outlines an efficient way to examine large numbers of moths collected in pheromone traps. The results will be useful for scientists, economic entomologists, extension agents, corn and cotton producers, and APHIS-PPQ inspectors and identifiers will use this information.

Technical Abstract: The taxonomic history of Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) and Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) is discussed. Heliothis stombleri Okumura and Bauer is a new synomym of H. zea. Male genitalic characters that diagnose H. armigera and H. zea are described and illustrated. Methods for examining large samples of H. zea for possible H. armigera specimens are discussed.

Last Modified: 4/20/2015
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