Cluster caterpillar (Spodoptera litura) is an armyworm species with a wide host range, including pulses and cotton. It is most common in warmer climates.
Colour and pattern variants
Traditionally, larger cluster caterpillar larvae have been identified by their distinctive rows of dark half-moons and spots along the body. A recent focus on caterpillar identification prompted by the establishment in Australia of the related fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) has highlighted that not all cluster caterpillars are displaying these traits as clearly as previously thought.
Top row: cluster caterpillar larvae with traditional markings. Bottom row: larvae from Burdekin and Mackay regions without the characteristic rows of spots.