Armyworm occurs in many areas of the world, including North, Central and South America, southern Europe, central Africa, and western Asia.

In North America, it is most abundant east of the Rocky Mountains where it is known principally as a grain pest. It does not overwinter in northern latitudes, but disperses northward each spring, and then southward during the autumn. It has been known to be damaging in Florida, but only rarely.

Larvae normally display six instars, though up to nine instars have been observed. Mean head capsule widths (range) are 0.34 (0.30-0.37), 0.55 (0.49-0.63), 0.94 (0.83-1.12), 1.5 (1.29-1.70), 2.3 (2.08-2.56), and 3.3 (3.04-3.68) mm, respectively, for instars one through six. Head capsule widths increase slightly with increased temperature up to about 30°C.

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