Latest Resistance management for sustainable agriculture and improved public health

Cotton bollworm

Helicoverpa armigera


This pest species is very polyphagous, it is one of the principal enemies of cotton and maize, but also frequently attacks vegetable plants: tomato, bean, onions and other row crops: sunflower, soybean.

It is a major pests in several parts of the world, in particular in Asia-Pacific, Africa, South-Europe, Eastern Europe and more recently in Latin America.

Adults appear in April-May and can be observed until October. Females lay several hundred eggs (up to 3 000) on all parts of the plant, flowers and fruits included. Depending on the climate 2 to 7 generations can be observed. The life cycle is completed in about 30 days.

The most severe damage is caused by the attack on reproductive parts (flower buds and heads, fruits and maize inflorescence.

H. armigera has developed resistance to many insecticides from most of the current chemical classes in all regions where it has developed.

Cotton bollworm resistance profile

Resistance to many insecticides has been reported all over the world for Helicoverpa armigera, mainly to carbamates (MoA 1A), organo-phospates (MoA # 1B), pyrethroids (MoA # 3A) families, or to BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) compounds. Resistance to spinosyns (MoA 5), indoxacarb (MoA 22A), emamectin benzoate (MoA 6), has also been reported. More recent insecticides like diamides are still effective and no resistance has been reported so far.


Species Distribution Chemical class Mechanisms
Helicoverpa armigera Global Organophosphates (1B) Target site resistance insensitive acetylcholinesterase (AChE)
Helicoverpa armigera Global Carbamates (1A) Target site resistance insensitive acetylcholinesterase (AChE)
Helicoverpa armigera Global Pyrethroids-Pyrethrins (3A) Metabolic resistance: (MFO, esterases activities) Enhanced cytochrome p450 Target site resistance: Pyrethroid nerve insensitivity also found to be a major mechanism Reduced cuticular penetration also reported
Helicoverpa armigera Global Bacillus thuringiensis and the insecticidal proteins they produce (11A) Metabolic resistance (increased esterase activity)
Helicoverpa armigera Global Indoxacarb (22A) Target site resistance Metabolic resistance

Key cotton bollworm resources


Title Year Author(s) Publisher
Genetics, cross-resistance and synergism of indoxacarb resistance in Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Vol. 73 (3), pp. 575-581. DOI: 10.1002/ps.4334 2017 Bird LJ Pest Management Science
The Use of F2 Screening for Detection of Resistance to Emamectin Benzoate, Chlorantraniliprole, and Indoxacarb in Australian Populations of Helicoverpa armigera (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) Vol. 110 (2), pp. 651-659. DOI: 10.1093/jee/tox037 2017 Bird LJ, Drynan LJ, Walker PW Journal of Economic Entomology
Resistance of Australian Helicoverpa armigera to fenvalerate is due to the chimeric P450 enzyme CYP337B3 Vol. 109 (38), pp. 15206-211. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1202047109 2012 Joußena N, Agnolet S, Lorenz S, Schöne SE, Ellinger R, Schneider B, Heckel DG Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US)
Characterization of mechanisms of resistance to common insecticides in noctuid pest species and resistance risk assessment for the new lepidopteran specific compound flubendiamide Doctoral dissertation 2009 Konanz S Hohenheim University
Insecticide resistance mechanisms and their management in Helicoverpa armigera (Hubner) Vol. 45, pp. 319-335, ISSN : 0368-1157 1970 Ahmad M Journal of Agricultural Research

The information provided is based on literature reviews and as such IRAC cannot guarantee or be held accountable for the accuracy of the reports.

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