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Australian Bollworm

Scientific Name
Helicoverpa punctigera
Scientific Author
(Wallengren, 1860)
(Lepidoptera: Noctuidae: Heliothinae)
Pest Status
0 Unknown
NZ - Exotic

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Diagnostic Images

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Diagnostic Images (6)
Other Images (6)
Diagnostic Notes


Green-eyed when alive or freshly dead; body and wings flat whitish buff ventrally; hindwing lacking a pale patch on the black border; front femora with characteristic specialised setae. Male: Forewings with indistinct transverse lines, no pale marginal spot in terminal fascia of hindwing; adeagus with long backwardly directed spine in distal orifice. Female: Transverse lines on forewing indistinct, terminal fascia of hindwing without pale marginal spot; genital plate with parallel sides; bursa seminalis clothed internally with minute spines.


Erect, nearly spherical, slightly flattened at summit and base, height and diameter equal. Chorion marked with 28-35 vertical ribs, most ribs entire, some branched. Micropyle in middle of summit surrounded by a smooth ribless area. Colour at oviposition pale yellow. An irregular reddish-brown band encircling egg slightly above equator develops 2-3 days before larva emerges; entire colour changes to light-grey about 24 hr before larva emerges, with black head capsule of larva visible as a dark internal spot.


Segments T1, A1-A8 with spiracle rims usually pale brown in late instars; scobinations slender-conical, absent below ventral margin of seta SD1 on segments A1-A6; platelet scobinations sparse.


Epicranial suture absent; labial palp one-quarter to one-fifth length of maxilla; maxilla length of forewing; femur of prothoracic leg visible between maxllla and tibia-tarsus of prothoracic leg, which is half length of maxilla; mesothoracic legs almost length of maxilla; tip of metathoracic leg just protruding below rnaxilla; antenna six-sevenths length of maxilla. Metathoracic wing covered by mesothoracic wing on ventral surface. Cremaster with 2 spines, tips usually crossed, rarely 1 or no spines present. Anus slit-like, on abdominal segment 10. Male gonopore small, on segment 9, edged by lateral swellings. Female gonopore small, midway between segments 8 and 9. A slight sex difference in profile of terminal abdominal segments. Cuticle of movable abdominal segments pitted above spiraclcs, smooth below. Colour at first translucent green, slowly changing to dark-brown as cuticle hardens. Tips of cremaster spines transparent. Several days after pupation three dark spots appear in an oblique line in eye. Colour pattern of adult visible through pupal cuticle several days before emergence. Distance between outer edges of cremaster spines at junction with cremaster ledd than 0.20 mm.


- Bejakovich, D. & Dugdale, J.S. (1991). Keys to late-instar larvae & adults of Noctuidae (Lepidoptera) encountered in field surveys and border control in New Zealand. 55 pp.

- Goodyer, G. (1978). The identification of armyworm, cutworm, budworm and looper caterpillar pests. Department of Agriculture New South Wales. AGbulletin 2, 12 pp.

- Kirkpatrick, T.H. (1961). Comparative morphological studies of Heliothis species (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Queensland. Queensland Journal of Agricultural Science, 18: 179-194.

- Matthews, M. (1999). Heliothine moths of Australia. A guide to pest bollworms and related noctuid groups. Monographs on Australian Lepidoptera, Volume 7, CSIRO Publishing, Victoria, 320 pp.
More Information
Specimen Contact
MAF Plant Health & Environment Laboratory
MAF Plant Health & Environment Laboratory
30/08/2011 12:14 AEST
Last Updated
09/04/2014 01:42 AEST
MAF Plant Health & Environment Laboratory (2011) Australian Bollworm (Helicoverpa punctigera) Updated on 4/9/2014 1:42:05 AM Available online: PaDIL -
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Free for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia License