Pest categorisation of Spodoptera litura

common cutworm, pest risk, plant health, plant pest, quarantine, tobacco cutworm
First published in the EFSA Journal
30 July 2019
27 June 2019
Scientific Opinion


The EFSA Panel on Plant Health (PLHP) performed a pest categorisation of Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) for the EU. S. litura is widely distributed across South and East Asia and Oceania. It is established in tropical and subtropical regions where there are no, or few, frost days each year. It can extend its range into cooler temperate regions during summer months. S. litura is highly polyphagous feeding on hosts within at least 40 botanical families, including economically important crops within Brassicaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Poaceae and Solanaceae. Larvae are primarily leaf feeders and can cause complete defoliation. At high population densities almost all plant parts are eaten. S. litura is a serious pest in the Asia‐Pacific region where it causes losses to many economically important cultivated field crops and crops such as eggplants, sweet peppers and tomatoes in protected cultivation. As a species that appears limited by winter temperatures, only a small area of the EU provides climatic conditions where establishment outdoors may be possible although cultivated and wild hosts are distributed across the EU. S. litura has been intercepted in the EU many times on ornamentals and leafy vegetables. Outbreaks have occurred in EU glasshouses and have been eradicated. Phytosanitary measures are available to inhibit entry. S. litura satisfies the criteria that are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest. S. litura does not meet the criteria of occurring in the EU, and plants for planting being the principal means of spread for it to be regarded as a potential Union regulated non‐quarantine pest.

Panel members at the time of adoption

Claude Bragard, Katharina Dehnen‐Schmutz, Francesco Di Serio, Paolo Gonthier, Marie‐Agnès Jacques, Josep Anton Jaques Miret, Annemarie Fejer Justesen, Alan MacLeod, Christer Sven Magnusson, Panagiotis Milonas, Juan A Navas‐Cortes, Stephen Parnell, Roel Potting, Philippe L Reignault, Hans‐Hermann Thulke, Wopke Van der Werf, Antonio Vicent Civera, Jonathan Yuen, Lucia Zappalà.
Panel on Plant Health
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EFSA Journal 2019;17(6):5765
Question Number
On request from
European Commission