Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Budworms, Heliothis species

Budworm, Heliothis spp
Colour variation from green to rusty red but always with a "GT stripe" down the side and a bit of designer stubble around the head.

The moth stage of the most common budworms, Heliothis punctiger (top) and Heliothis armiger

Right now, about 10cm below the soil, a budworm pupa is saying to itself 'Send 'er down, Hughie' as a gleeful expression of hard rain falling, for warm moist weather favours these insects. The emerging moths are nocturnal (hence their Latin Family name of Noctuidae) flying around at dusk , flitting about, feeding on nectar and laying up to a thousand eggs over a two week period. Many have shortened lives if they find themselves suddenly overwhelmed by the desire to make love to a porch light or insect zapper. Those that stick around the garden lay eggs near the tops of plants on flowers or newly set young fruit. Unlike their more stupid cousins, the green looper caterpillar, offspring of the cabbage white butterfly, the budworm sets up home inside a bud or fruit like a tomato by drilling a small hole which is barely visible to the naked eye. The flowers they delight in ruining include carnations, geraniums, calendula and hollyhock. Vegetables attacked include sweet corn ,usually at the top of the ear, beans in which they bore inside to eat the seeds and tomatoes ,where they are just called 'darn those grubs!' again.
Because they are out of sight, control can be difficult without a systemic insecticide so for those looking for an organic control method, a search and destroy approach is the way to go even at night when the moths are on their egg laying mission.


  1. Hi Ian
    Can you comment on this post?

  2. Hi Dalene,
    It was a very interesting article on the Agapanthus grub. Looks like a budworm and hope we never get that species here. The Clivea grub has spread around and does a lot of damage as well