Densities of Heliothis virescens and Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Three Plant Hosts

Carlos A. Blanco, Antonio P. Terán-Vargas, Juan D. López, Jr., James V. Kauffman, Xikui Wei


Large numbers of field-collected tobacco budworms Heliothis virescens L., and/or bollworms Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) (heliothines) might be difficult to obtain depending upon host plants available to the insects. Of the >95 cultivated and wild plants that have been identified as their hosts, some are highly attractive to these insects, some are also widely available and of those, some could be used to collect large numbers of both insect species. However, the reliability of these plants in space and time in providing abundant samples of larvae and/or moths is not well understood. We studied naturally-occurring heliothine populations over a 3-year period in 2 different geographic locations in plots of garbanzo bean (Cicer arietinum L.), upland cotton (Gossipium hirsutum L.), and velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti Medikus) finding that garbanzo bean produced significantly higher numbers of tobacco budworm and bollworm larvae and adults as compared to the other 2 plant species. Tobacco budworm larvae were found in at least 1 host plant (primarily garbanzo) all the years in both locations while bollworm larvae were not. Field moth emergence represented =10% of its larval densities and abiotic factors made a difference on moth emergence between years. When large numbers of both insects are needed for field or laboratory studies, garbanzo bean offers a clear advantage over cotton or velvetleaf to obtain collections of heliothines.

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