Life stages

Fall armyworm eggs are laid in clusters and covered in scales, giving a ‘furry’ appearance. Neonates have translucent bodies with dark heads.

Development of larvae in eggs (left to right), newly laid eggs, head capsule just visible, dark head capsule very evident, neonate larvae hatching from eggs.

Young larvae (up to about 3rd instars) can look very similar to young helicoverpa and other armyworm species. Larger larvae are more easily distinguished (see FAW ID page).

Pupae look similar to helicoverpa pupae, but are slightly smaller.

Female moths are a mottled grey, and males have a rusty patterned forewings.


FAW can attack a range of plant parts.

Natural enemies

A range of predators, parasitoids and pathogens can attack FAW.

FAW larva killed by Metarhizium rileyi. The fungus can be white (just hyphae) or green (sporulating). Photos by Melina Miles.