Home / Noctuid Moths (Noctuidae) / Fall Armyworm Moth (Spodoptera frugiperda)

Fall Armyworm Moth (Spodoptera frugiperda)

The fall armyworm moth is a member of the family of owlet moths. As a larva, it is easily recognizable from the inverted Y-shaped white mark on the top of its forehead.

Fall Armyworm Moth


Scientific Classification

  • Family: Noctuidae
  • Genus: Spodoptera
  • Scientific Name: Spodoptera frugiperda

Description and Identification


The caterpillars go through six instars. Initially, the larvae are green with a black head, with the head becoming orange in the 2nd instar. While going from the 2nd to the 3rd instar, they become brown and covered with lateral white lines. In the 4th to 6th instars, the head is reddish-brown, mottled with white and the brownish body bears white subdorsal and lateral lines.

Fall Armyworm Moth Caterpillar



The pupae are reddish-brown, 14-18 mm long, and 4.5 mm wide. Pupation takes place 2-8 cm underground, inside a cocoon made of soil particles held together with silk. This cocoon is oval-shaped and 2-3 cm long.

The moth spends 8-9 days as a pupa.

Fall Armyworm Moth Pupa


Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present. The wings of the female are less distinctly marked than the male.

Color and Appearance

Forewing: When the wings are opened, they are shaded brown to grey. There is a series of triangular white spots at the tip and center of the wing. When the wings are closed, the colors and patterns remain the same.

Hindwing: When the wings are opened, they are an iridescent silvery-white color, with a dark border at the edge. When the wings are closed, the colors and patterns are not visible.

Average wingspan: 3.2-4 cm

Flight Pattern: Erratic

Season: Late summer to early fall


They are dome-shaped, flattened at the base, and measure 0.4 mm in diameter and 0.3 mm in height. The eggs are laid in a mass, each clutch containing 100-200 eggs, and are covered with a layer of greyish scales by the mother, making them appear fuzzy.

Fall Armyworm Moth Eggs


Quick Facts

DistributionNative: eastern and central North America, South America
Invasive: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Europe, and South Africa
HabitatAny areas with grass
Lifespan of Adults7-21 days
Host PlantsBermudagrass, cotton, corn, Johnson grass, rice, and sorghum
PredatorsBeetles, birds, earwigs, parasitoids, rodents, and other insects
Adult DietNectar

Did You Know

  • English botanist Sir James Edward Smith first described this species in 1797.
Fall Armyworm


Fall Armyworm Moth Image


Fall Armyworm Moth Picture


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