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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346888

Research Project: Systematics of Moths Significant to Biodiversity, Quarantine, and Control, with a Focus on Invasive Species

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Identification of non-target Heliothinae larvae intercepted at U.S. ports of entry (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

item GILLIGAN, TODD - Colorado Department Of Agriculture
item TIMM, ALICIA - Colorado State University
item FARRIS, R. - Texas Department Of Agriculture
item LEDEZMA, L. - Texas Department Of Agriculture
item PASSOA, STEVEN - The Ohio State University
item Goldstein, Paul
item CUNNINGHAM, ALEX - Florida State Department Of Agriculture

Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2018
Publication Date: 1/5/2019
Citation: Gilligan, T.M., Timm, A.E., Farris, R., Ledezma, L., Passoa, S.C., Goldstein, P.Z., Cunningham, A.P. 2019. Identification of non-target Heliothinae larvae intercepted at U.S. ports of entry (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. 112(2):1-13.

Interpretive Summary: Species of Heliothinae moths are among the most destructive and economically important insects in the world, but their caterpillars can be difficult or impossible to identify with traditional methods. Because one of the most destructive species (Old World Bollworm) has recently appeared in the New World for the first time, we need to develop better tools to tell them apart from native species. This paper synthesizes morphological and molecular data for more than 300 specimens intercepted at U.S. ports since 2014, and provides new means for differentiating commonly intercepted, non-target species from those representing real economic threats.

Technical Abstract: Heliothinae larvae, especially early instars, are difficult to identify, often requiring the use of origin and host data to produce a reliable species-level identification. The introduction of H. armigera into the New World has altered the ability to identify intercepted Helicoverpa larvae by their host and origin, and suspect Heliothinae/Helicoverpa larvae are now screened for H. armigera and H. zea using molecular methods, but non-targets are not identified to species. Here we identify 317 Heliothinae/Helicoverpa larvae using DNA barcoding that were screened as non-targets. A total of nine species were identified, with Chloridea virescens making up the bulk of interception records. The majority of Heliothinae/Helicoverpa suspects originate from Mexico and Peru on pigeon pea, chickpea, tomatillo, pea, and corn. Chloridea virescens is recorded from every country where interceptions were identified for this study and is found on multiple hosts. Identification issues and specific host/origin associations are discussed in detail.