FAW damage

The field crops that appear to be most attractive to FAW so far appear to be maize and sorghum (including forage sorghum). In horticulture FAW has been detected in sweetcorn, capsicum and rockmelon.

A range of grasses are host to FAW overseas; it remains to be seen what the impact on pastures in Australia will be.

Typical damage symptoms

FAW damage in many crops is similar to that caused by other caterpillars. The larve can cause defoliation, stem damage or damage to reproductive structures, and can cause significant damage and yield loss in some crops. The amount of damage will depend on the crop stage at which the eggs hatch, the intensity of the infestation, the yield potential of the cropping situation, and a range of other factors, including prevalence of natural enemies. Below are some examples of the more commonly found types of damage.

If you find damage symptoms, carefully examine the plants for larvae to identify which species are present.

Spodoptera commonly cause ‘windowing’ on the leaves.

FAW can cause chewing damage to leaves, whorls and reproductive structures.


See also:

  • A Beatsheet article (January 2021) on Detecting FAW in sorghum and corn provides some visual clues for distinguishing between FAW and helicoverpa damage.
  • How do FAW and other caterpillars eat holes in leaves without being seen? Take a look at our short video below on FAW shotgun damage in maize.