Neotropical Entomology

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 517–542 | Cite as

Morphological Characterization of Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Heliothinae)

  • L Queiroz-Santos
  • M M Casagrande
  • A Specht
Systematics, Morphology and Physiology


The cotton bollworm Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) is a widespread lepidopteran pest found in various crops worldwide. This highly polyphagous species, commonly found both in the Old and New World, has caused significant economic damage as an invasive agricultural pest in Brazil since 2013. The goal of the present study is to provide a detailed morphological assessment of adults and immature stages of H. armigera, as this species is often confused with H. zea (Boddie), a congeneric species that is native to the New World. The biology data were acquired during four full life cycles, and observations on general behavior, nocturnal habits of larvae and adults, and sensitivity of larvae to humidity were recorded. Larval chaetotaxy differs between the first and the remaining instars, which bear L2 on the meso- and metathorax and L3 on A3 through A6, along with conspicuous chalazae and longitudinal bands. Important morphological characters of this species include the following: eggs with four micropylar openings, lined with 12 cells arranged in the shape of a rosette; pupa adecticous and obtect, with prominent spiracles; adults with the distal antennomere striate. Adults exhibit sexual dimorphism in the number of setae on the frenulum and spines on the prothoracic leg. Illustrations of the critical morphological features of this species are provided.


Adult agricultural pest chaetotaxy egg larva old world bollworm pupa 



Illustrations presented in this paper were acquired at the Electron Microscopy Center (CEM-UFPR) and Taxonline at Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, Brazil. The authors thank Dr. Fernando Dias Maia for assisting with image editing and Olivia Evangelista, Ana Dal Molin, and Keith Bayless for translating and proofreading an earlier version of this manuscript. We also thank Dr. Daniel R. Sosa-Gómez (Embrapa Soja, Londrina, Paraná, Brazil) for sending the pupae. Thanks again to Takumasa Kondo, and three anonymous reviewers, for detailed comments and corrections that improved this paper.

Funding Information

This research was funded by the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico – CNPq) (LQS proc. no. 130624/2014-1; MMC proc. no. 308247/2013-2; AS proc. no. 403376/2013-0, 476691/2013-3, 47304/2013-8) and Embrapa (proc. SEG MP2 -

Supplementary material

13744_2017_581_Fig30_ESM.gif (88 kb)
Fig S1

General chaetotaxy of 1st instar larva of Helicoverpa armigera. Lbr: labrum, Md: mandible, Mxs: maxillae. (GIF 87 kb)

13744_2017_581_MOESM1_ESM.eps (20 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 20502 kb)
13744_2017_581_Fig31_ESM.gif (29 kb)
Fig S2

Schematic representation of general chaetotaxy of 6th instar larva of Helicoverpa armigera. (GIF 29 kb)

13744_2017_581_MOESM2_ESM.eps (6.6 mb)
High resolution image (EPS 6802 kb)


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Copyright information

© Sociedade Entomológica do Brasil 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lab de Estudos de Lepidoptera Neotropical, Depto de ZoologiaUniv Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrasil
  2. 2.Embrapa CerradosPlanaltinaBrasil

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