Old World Bollworm

Old World Bollworm

The old world bollworm is a significant threat to U.S. agriculture. Immediately report signs of damage.

The Old World Bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) is known to attack more than 180 plant species and can cause serious crop losses, especially in tomato, corn, soybean, and cotton. Damage occurs when the larvae bore into the host’s flowers and fruit and feed within the plant; the larvae may also feed on the leaves of host plants. Old world bollworm was detected in Puerto Rico in 2014 and Florida in 2015. If it were to spread into the continental United States, it could seriously harm U.S. agricultural production, the environment, and our economy.

More than 180 plant species, including:

  • Corn
  • Cotton
  • Small grains
  • Soybeans
  • Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Moving or mailing infested fruits, vegetables, or plants
  • Bringing infested fruits, vegetables, and plants into the United States in passenger baggage
  • Moths or larvae hitchhiking in international cargo
  • Moths carried long distances by wind
  • Adult moths and larvae on the flowers, fruit, or leaves of host plants
  • Holes bored into the base of flower buds, fruit, or bolls
  • Other signs of damage to leaves and shoots
  • Young fruit or bolls that fall prematurely
Larvae or damage within the plant’s fruit (may need to cut open the fruit to see this)
  • Do not bring or mail fresh fruits, vegetables, plants or soil into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them first.
  • Allow authorized agricultural workers access to property to install and inspect insect-monitoring traps.
Contact your local Extension office or State Plant Regulatory Official  if you suspect old world bollworm.


What's at Risk from the Old World Bollworm:

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