Spodoptera litura (F.), an important polyphagous insect pest, attacks ca. 300 economic crops in dozens of countries. Investigations into its growth and development performance on different host plants can provide an understanding of the potential for increase of S. litura population in the field. We measured the development time, body weight, and head capsule width of S. litura larvae reared on cabbage, taro, peanut, and sesbania, a green manure. Larvae reared on cabbage ingested a significantly higher amount of protein and completed the immature stages in a shorter period than those reared on the other three plants. The relationship between head capsule width and larval instars on these four crops fitted well with Dyar's rule, and the Dyar's ratios ranged from 1.4554 to 1.6786, although a few supernumerary instar individuals on sesbania, peanut, and taro showed lower ratios (1.0103 to 1.1330). The head capsule width among cohorts fed on different host plants varied significantly and overlapped between late instars, which could lead to a misjudgment of instar stage in the field. The growth index of S. litura on cabbage was significantly higher than on the other host plants. Larvae fed on sesbania showed the highest feeding index and a better growth index than on taro and peanut. We therefore suggest that the area-wide pest management against S. litura should take into consideration its occurrence on sesbania in intercropping seasons. Additionally, the effective management of this pest during cropping windows between all these four plants should not be ignored.
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Vol. 108 • No. 5