Banded sunflower moth
Description: The adult has a dark band across the buff or yellowish-tan forewings. The wingspan is about 0.5 inch. Early instar larvae are off-white; late instar larvae are pinkish to red with a brown head capsule. Larvae will be about 0.44 inch at maturity.
Life Cycle: The adults emerge from local overwintering sites rather than migrating long distances. In the northern states the banded moths begin to emerge about mid-July and are present until mid-August. Adults tend to congregate in field margins or adjacent crops during the day and then move into the sunflower crop in the evening. Within a week after emergence, they begin to lay eggs on the outside of the bracts. Eggs may be found through early August and hatch in 5 to 8 days. Larvae develop through five instars and are present in sunflower heads from mid-July to Mid-September. After feeding to maturity, larvae drop to the ground to overwinter.
Damage: Newly hatched larvae move from the bracts (where they feed initially) to the florets of the sunflower head, where they enter open florets to feed. During later stages the larvae tunnel though the base of the floret into the seed and consume the contents. Each larva may destroy 5 to 7 seeds. Silken webbing on the face of the head at maturity indicates the presence of the larvae within the head.
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