Catterpillar on cauliflower in our kitchen 2006:10:29
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Thanks very much, another alien!
Rather interesting how it ended up in my kitchen since its native to America where its a major pest of cotton and other crops. Perhaps the cauliflower was grown for the supermarket in an area of southern europe where the insect has arrived from america and is becoming a serious pest? Or is the insect well enough established in UK to be affecting UK grown crops?
It appears that this species is very good at evolving resistance both to the insecticides that are used to treat infestations on cotton but also the GM alternatives where the crops have been modified to produce a toxin.
I don't think Scarce Bordered Straw (Helicoverpa armigera) is an American species. Another colloquial name is Old World Bollworm. In the US there is a closely related species Heliocoverpa zea, aka Corn Earworm or Bollworm or Tomato Fruitworm. Indeed in US the world "bollworm" is used widely as a generic term for caterpillar pests of cotton and other crops.
Scarce Bordered Straw is a migrant to the UK from S Europe, but the larvae do turn up from time to time, as you suggest in produce from the Mediterranean; mangetout peas and beans are other routes in. There is another probable example here:
Have you read this, obviously some people think its a serious pest unless there is some confusion in the names.
"Helicoverpa (=Heliothis) armigera is currently placed on Annex I A II of Council Directive 2000/29/EC,
indicating that it is considered to be relevant for the entire EU and that phytosanitary measures are
required when it is found on any plants or plant products. EU Member states, in particular The
Netherlands and United Kingdom, frequently intercept H. armigera on imported produce (especially
Dianthus and Rosa cut flowers, Phaseolus, Pisum and Zea mays) and some ornamental cuttings....Worldwide the annual control costs and production losses amount to $5 billion"
No confusion over names - that's the moth, but, without wishing to appear especially cynical, there are many ways that you can look at the material:
- closing the stable door after the horse has bolted (the moth is native, widespread and well-established in S Europe)
- our attention span concerning pests is very short, and we are now all getting in a panic about Tuta absoluta
- where do the authors of these reports get their cost stats. from?
- the word "infestation" is well and truly loaded.
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