• Helicoverpa armigera;
  • cantharidin;
  • sublethal;
  • population parameters;
  • abnormalities



The cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner), is a serious and cosmopolitan pest of many economic crops. Its control has not been adequate owing to its resistance to many groups of insecticides. Toxicity of cantharidin on armyworm and diamondback moth has already been reported. However, its toxicity on H. armigera has not been investigated previously. In this study, lethal and sublethal effects of cantharidin on H. armigera under laboratory conditions are reported.


Results showed gross abnormalities in the population parameters of H. armigera, ranging from larvae to adults. Reduction in larval weight and wing malformation were observed in the cantharidin-treated population cohort, and higher mortality at the larval, pupal and adult stages was observed in cantharidin-treated H. armigera compared with the control. Moreover, almost 5 times less fecundity was recorded in the treated population cohort. Fertility was also severely affected, and reduction in all population parameters was observed.


Cantharidin caused larval mortality and other serious abnormalities in H. armigera population parameters, and therefore may have positive implications for pest management decision-making process. More interestingly, the experiment revealed that cantharidin in sublethal dose mimicked insect growth regulator insecticides. Furthermore, cantharidin could be used as a precursor compound for the synthesis of new analogues and compounds to replace ineffective older compounds. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry