CHEWING INSECTS

INSECTS THAT EAT FOLIAGE AND/OR FRUITS OF PLANTS LEAVING VISIBLE SIGNS OF DAMAGE


ARMYWORM, Pseudaletia unipuncta (Haworth)
Description PictureDamage
  • adults are pale-brown or brownish-gray moths with wing expanse of about 1 1/2 inches and a small but prominent white dot near the cneter of each forewing
  • young larvae are pale green and have looping habits
  • older larvae do not loop while crawling
  • mature larvae are about 1 1/2 inches long, greenish brown with three stipes on each side of the body
  • upper stripe is pale orange, the middle one is dark brown and the bottom stripe is pale yellow
  • larvae have a smooth skin, honeycombed head, three pairs of true legs and five pairs of prolegs
  •  
  • newly hatched larvae begin feeding immediately upon foliage, eating the epidermis
  • first, causing a skeletonized appearance
  • older larvae straddle the outer leaf margins
  • especially grass blades, and cut holes reaching to the mid-rib
  • often cut heads off small grain plants
  • although the insects prefer grass crops, they also feed on legumes
  • after devouring the feed supply in their hatching area, the larvae move in armies to nearby fields
  • usually, most damage to field crops is caused during the spring by first generation larvae
  • armyworms may migrate from lawns, pastures or small grains into vegetables


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    BEET ARMYWORM, Spodoptera exigua (Hubner)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults have forewings which are mottled grayish-brown and have an expanse of about 1 1/4 inches
  • hind wings are silver white with a darker front margin
  • bright green with dark lateral stripes, the larvae are about 1 1/4 inches long


  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • larvae may defoiliate plants


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    BEET WEBWORM, Loxostege sticticalis (Linnaeus)
    Description PictureDamage
  • brown moths with mottled with lighter and darker spots
  • 1-inch wing spread
  • larvae are slender, yellowish to green with a dorsal black stripe
  • about 2 inches long
  •  
  • webbing on leaves and
  • devour foliage
  • often migrate like an armyworm
  • leave stripped crops behind


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    BLISTER BEETLES, Epicauta and others
    Description PictureDamage
  • all adults are long and slender with distinct body divisions
  • may be black, gray or striped
  • larvae are not damaging to vegetables

  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • adults feed on the foliage of host plants


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    CABBAGE LOOPER, Trichopulsia ni (Hubner)
    Description PictureDamage
  • moths light grayish-brown moths with a small, lighter colored spot near the center of each forewing
  • moths have a wingspread of about 1 1/2 inches
  • light-green caterpillars with a few white or pale yellow stripes
  • larvae travel with a characteristic looping motion


  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University  
  • voracious feeders, which can strip foliage from infested plants in a short time
  • a virus often affects individuals especially in high populationa
  • may feed in whorls of young corn plants, but usually is not an economic threat there
  • larvae are cannibalistic and usually only one larva grows in each ear


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    CARROT WEEVILS, Listronotus oregonensis (LeConte)
    and Hyperodes texana Stockton
    Description PictureDamage
  • tannish-gray adults are about 1/4 inch long
  • larvae are white C-shaped grubs
  • eggs are laid on the leaf petioles or in the crown of the plant
  • several generations occur in a single season
  • about 5 weeks are needed for development from egg to adults
  • H. texana is a pest in south Texas





  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • grubs feed on the exterior or burrow into carrots
  • damage usually occurs near the top of the carrot


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    COLORADO POTATO BEETLE, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults are robust yellow and black striped beetles
  • about 3/8 inch long
  • larvae are reddish and humped
  • two rows of black spots on each side of the body
  •  
  • adults and larvae devour foliage


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    CORN EARWORM, Heliothis zea (Boddie)
    (Also know as bollworm and tomato fruitworm)
    Description PictureDamage
  • front wings which are a light grayish-brown, marked with dark-gray to olive-green irregular lines
  • fore wings haves a darker band near the tip
  • hind wings are light in color with slightly wavy dark bands, especially near the extremities
  • 1 1/2-inch wing expanse
  • larvae vary from light green or pink to brown or nearly black
  • alternating longitudinal dark and lgiht stripes mark its body
  • larvae vary from light green or pink to brown or nearly black
  • coloration is so variable that it is not dependable for identification
  • short microspines (visible through a hand lens) on the skin
  • feeding habits are useful identifying characteristics



  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • newly hatched larvae begin feeding on the plant where eggs were laid on corn silk
  • larvae burrow into and eat the developing grains
  • may feed in whorls of young corn plants, but usually is not an economic threat there
  • larvae are cannibalistic and usually only one larva grows in each ear


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    COWPEA CURCULIO, Chalcodermus aeneus Boheman
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults about 1/4 inch long
  • black with a distinct weevil snout
  • many rows of distinct pits on the elytra and dorsal surface of the thorax
  • larvae are legless, white, C-shaped grubs
  • about 1/4 inch long
  •  
  • chewing larvae feed within the developing seed
  • each larva feeds on 1 to 2 seeds within the pod tissue
  • adults feed and oviposit on the pod tissue


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    DIAMONDBACK MOTH, Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus)
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are grayish moths, about 1/3 inch long
  • males have the wings with a row of three diamond-shaped yellow spots where they meet down the middle of the back
  • folded wings flare outward and upward toward their tips
  • hind wings have a fringe of long hairs
  • larvae, which rarely exceed 1/3 inch, are pale yellowish-green with fine, scattered, erect black hairs over the body
  • they wiggle actively when disturbed
  • pupa is in a gauzy sack so thin and loosely spun that it hardly conceals the pupa about 3/8 inch long





  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larvae feed on the underside of leaves, leaving shothole type damage
  • usually, outer leaves are attacked


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    FALL ARMYWORM, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adult moths are about 3/4 inch long and 1 1/2 inches
  • across outspread wings
  • male forewings are gray and have irregular white spot near the tip
  • female forewings usually are duller than those of the male
  • hind wings of both sexes have a pinkish-white luster, bordered by a smoky-brown band
  • newly hatched larva has a jet-black head and light body, turning darker when about 3 days old
  • fully grown larva is 1 1/3 inches and varies from light-green to almost black
  • front of head is marked with a prominent inverted Y, but this character is not always reliable identification
  • larvae have three yellowish-white lines down the back from head to tail
  • on each side next to each outer dorsal line is a wider dark stripe below which is an equally wide, wavy, yellow stripe, splotched with red

  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • tiny larva begins feeding on its egg shell immediately after hatching, but
  • soon attacks plants near the soil surface
  • larvae grow rapidly and within 2 or 3 days begin devouring plants
  • frequently do considerable damage to corn ears, similar to that caused by corn earworms


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    FLEA BEETLES
    tobacco fleabeetle, Epitrix hirtipennis (Melsheimer),
    eggplant fleabeetle, E. fuscula Crotch,
    potato fleabeetle, E. cucumeris (Harris) and other species
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are approximately 1/16 inch long
  • some are entirely black, others brown-black with faint, lighter markings
  • larvae are small, slender and white with a black band and 3 pairs of legs



  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • plant foliage has numerous, very small, rounded or irregular holes
  • holes eaten through or into the leaf
  • leaves look like they were peppered with fine shot
  • leaves may wilt and turn brown
  • may kill or stunt the plant


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    GARDEN WEBWORM, Achyra rantalis (Guene)
    Description Picture Damage
  • buff moths with shadings and irregular markings of light and dark gray
  • wingspread is about 3/4 inch
  • generally, night active
  • attracted to lights
  • often found in fields during the day, with darting short flights
  • larvae about 1 inch long
  • yellowish or pale to dark greenish with a light stripe down the back
  • three dark spots form a triangle on the side of each segment

  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • larvae feed primarily on the underside of leaves
  • skeletonizing leaves
  • spin webs and draw leaves within the web for food


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    GOLDEN TORTOISE BEETLE, Metriona bicolor (Fabricius)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults are oval, flattened and golden
  • nearly 1/4 inch long
  • larvae are short, flattened, and margined
  • a forked posterior appendage bent forward over the body, which holds debris
  •  
  • adults and larvae feed on foliage
  • cut holes and sometimes consuming entire leaves


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    GRASSHOPPERS, several species
    Description PictureDamage
  • many species feed on crops
  • highly variable in size and color
  • long straight wings lay tent-like over the back
  • most grasshoppers overwinter in the egg stage
  • nymphs common early in the year
  • may be attracted to gardens during dry weather
  • nymphs have short wing pads

  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • foliage is eaten
  • may completely strip foliage
  • net L-5201 Grasshoppers and Their Contol


    IMPORTED CABBAGEWORM, Pieris rapae (Linnaeus)
    Description Picture Damage
  • white butterflies which have a few black spots on the front wings and black to gray wing tips
  • hind wings have a single spot at the front edge
  • travel like typical caterpillars without a looping motion
  • larvae are dark-green caterpillars up to 2 inches long

  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • attack is similar to and easily confused with the cabbage looper
  • related species, including the great southern white, may also be pests


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    LESSER CORNSTALK BORER, Elasmopalpus lignosellus (Zeller)
    Description Picture Damage
  • moths are brownish gray with less than 1-inch wing expanse
  • female forewings are darker than those of the male
  • caterpillars are slender, about 3/4 inch long
  • light green with faint stripes and more prominent, transverse brown bands

  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • larvae bore into corn and bean stems at ground level or below the soil
  • tunnel upwards causing plant death
  • injury is usually more severe in fields that had Johnsongrass or sorghum previously
  • corn after fallow fields is seldom damaged
  • soils moist enough to germinate seed are optimum for adult emergence


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    MELONWORM, Diaphania hyalinata (Linnaeus)
    Description Picture Damage
  • adult moths have velvety black wing margins with lighter, pearly-white areas
  • larval stages have two dorsal white stripes running the length of the body
  • otherwise, they resemble the pickleworm
  • larvae can grow 1 1/4 inches long




  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larvae feed on foliage rather than blossoms before they tunnel into stems and fruits
  • similar to pickleworm
  • most abundant on late squash


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    PEPPER WEEVIL, Anthonomus eugenii Cano
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are black weevils with a sparse covering of tan-to-gray hairs
  • about 1/8 inch long
  • larvae are white grubs with brown heads




  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • tunnels damage the seeds area of pepper pods


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    PICKLEWORM, Diaphania nitidalis (Stoll)
    Description Picture Damage
  • moths have dark-brown wing margins merging into lighter areas toward the center, with the abdomen tip tufted with hairs
  • Larvae -- bright green and black-dotted
  • do not exceed 3/4 inch long


  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larvae feed on blossoms and vines and mine into the underside of fruits


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    SALTMARSH CATERPILLAR, Estigmene acrea (Drury)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults are white moths with wings freckled with black spots
  • in females, wings are yellow on the underside
  • males have hind wings, yellow above and below
  • full grown, larvae are up to 2 inches long
  • covered with dense hairs ranging from yellowish to brown and nearly black

  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • larvae are present in large numbers and migrate similar to armyworms
  • strip foliage from plants


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    SERPENTINE LEAFMINER, Liriomyza brassicae (Riley) and others
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are small flies which are 1/8 inch long
  • yellow and black thorax and a black head
  • adults fly quickly for short distances when disturbed
  • maggot is 1/8 inch long white, legless and wedge-shaped
  • pupae are light brown, oval and ringed with ridges



  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • maggots eat leaf tissue between the upper and lower surfaces
  • leave slender, white winding trails through the leaf's interior
  • leaves, especially peppers, are weakened


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    SOUTHWESTERN CORN BORER, Diatraea grandiosella (Dyar),
    STALK BORER, Papaipema nebris (Guene) and others
    Description PictureDamage
  • several species occur
  • Larvae -- bright green and black-dotted
  • do not exceed 3/4 inch long
  • caterpillars are usually cylindrical, elongate and have few hairs
  • legs are very short
  •  
  • feeding takes place inside the stalk or roots of the plant
  • insects are difficult to treat because the plant protects them


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    SQUASH VINE BORER, Melittia satyriniformis (Hubner)
    and related species
    Description Picture Damage
  • adult moth is one of the "clear wing" types because the hind wings lack scales
  • a 1 1/2-inch wing expanse
  • metallic green-black colors
  • hind wings fringed with black and orange hairs and similar colors on the abdomen
  • moths are day fliers
  • larvae are white, heavy-bodied and over 1 inch long when full grown


  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larvae bore into vines
  • appear more like a grub than a caterpillar
  • infested vines may be totally destroyed
  • much variation exists in the susceptibility of squash and pumpkin varieties
  • hubbard squash is highly susceptible


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    TEXAS LEAFCUTTING ANT, Atta texana (Buckley)
    Description Picture Damage
  • leafcutting ant is rusty brown
  • several castes with considerable variation in size
  • queen is approximately 3/4 inch long
  • common workers range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length
  • colonies usually are found in well-drained sandy soils
  • colony may consist of a few small mounds or several feet across
  • mound interior has several chambers and may descend 15 feet



  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • worker ants are active from May to September
  • forage during the night on vegetables abd many other plants
  • often defoliate plants, carrying severed leaves to their nest
  • leaves are used to maintain their "fungus garden"
  • well-defined foraging trails are established by ants


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    TOBACCO HORNWORM, Manduca sexta (Linnaeus)
    and the TOMATO HORNWORM, M. quinquemaculata (Haworth)
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are large, fast-flying hawk moths
  • sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds, with a 5-inch winspread
  • large larvae are similar with seven diagonal light stripes on the tobacco hornworm
  • eight curved stripes on the tomato hornworm



  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larvae feed voraciously on tomato and pepper foliage


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    TOMATO PINWORM, Keiferia lycopersicella (Walsingham)
    Description Picture Damage
  • adults are gray moths 1/4 inch long
  • larvae are light orange at first
  • become purplish black with maturity and
  • larve up to 1/4 inch



  • Photo credit: Extension Entomology, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University

  • larval feeding is similar to leafminer damage to plants
  • larvae later invade stems and fruits
  • invaded fruit are useless for canning purposes


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    VEGETABLE WEEVIL, Listroderes costirostris obliquus (Klug)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adults are grayish snout beetles
  • lighter V-shaped markings near hind end of wing covers
  • about 1/3 inch long
  • larvae are light green, legless grubs
  •  
  • both larvae and adults feed on the plants, principally at night
  • damage may resemble that of cutworms


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    YELLOWSTRIPED ARMYWORM, Spodoptera ornithogalli (Guene)
    Description PictureDamage
  • adult moths have a 2-inch wingspread
  • hind wings are pearly-white with dark margins
  • adults are very similar to the fall armyworm
  • there are three lines on the back--an outer, bright-orange stripe on each side and a median, yellowish-white line


  • Photo credit: W. L. Sterling, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University
  • larvae generally are day feeders on foliage of forage plants
  • solitary feeders
  • otherwise their habits are similar to armyworms




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    Last modified: March 30, 1998