African bollworm

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A.M. Varela, icipe
Is this a Minor Pest?
Minor Pest Title

African bollworm (Helicoverpa armiguera) and other caterpillars

Minor Pest Description

 Various species of caterpillars feed on leaves and pods of peas. The most common are the African bollworm (Helicoverpa armiguera), the beet armyworm (Spodotera exigua) and hairy caterpillars (Arctiidae).


Caterpillars bore holes and feed on leaves, flower buds and maturing pods eating the seeds. They also attack young pods eating the pod wall and the developing seeds.

Minor Pest What to do.
  • Conserve natural enemies. Caterpillars have a wide range of natural enemies (parasitic wasps, predators and pathogens) that are important in their natural control.
  • Inspect the crop regularly.
  • Hand pick and kill caterpillars or feed them to poultry. This helps when their numbers are low and in small fields. However, if possible wear gloves when handling hairy caterpillars. Some of them have urticating hairs, which may cause skin irritation.
  • If necessary, spray Bt or neem products.
  • For more information on neem click here. For information on Bt click here
Minor Pest Position
Minor Pest Firstcontent
Pest Type
Common names; African bollworm, Fruitworm, Podborer, Corn earworm, Tomato grub, Tobacco budworm
Other Crops
Host Plants