Old World bollworm (Eng.), Tomato caterpillar (Eng.), Cotton boll worm (Eng.), Katoenbolwurm (Afr.), Afrikabolwurm (Afr.)
Larvae cause damage to young leaves, flower buds and fruit.
This species has complete metamorphosis:
-Egg: Shiny, yellowish-white at first, and become dark brown before they hatch. Shape of the eggs is spherical and about 0.5 mm in diameter. Eggs are laid singly usually on the upper side of leaves.
-Larva: There are 5-6 larval instars. First instar larvae are about 1.5 mm in length and grow up to 3 mm; fully grown larvae can reach up to 40 mm in length. Young larvae are generally yellowish to almost blackish. Older larvae often have dark stripes along the sides. They also have longitudinal white or beige stripes that extends along each side of the body.
-Pupa: Smooth and shiny brown. The length is about 15-20 mm with two short spines at the posterior tip of the body. Pupae are found in the soil, often directly under the plant.
-Adult moth: Colour varies significantly; the forewings are dull yellow, pale brown to reddish-brown. There is often an irregular brownish cross-band and a dark mark in the middle of each wing. The hind wings are paler, greyish-white. The hind margins are broadly marked with dark brown. Moths are about 15-20 mm long when at rest with a wingspan of 35-40 mm.
Young larvae start to feed on young flowers and leaves. They will then move on to fruit and stems. They remain feeding in the fruit, but can also bore down into the main stem. Damaged fruit is unmarketable.
This species is found throughout the Africa continent. It was originally described from Europe and is also widespread in Asia and Australasia.