Evergestis rimosalis Guene Lepidoptera Pyralidae

Natural History

Distribution. Cross-striped cabbageworm is recorded principally from North America east of the Rocky Mountains, but is infrequent in the northernmost states and eastern Canada. This insect is known as a common pest only in the southeastern states and in Central America, and even in the southeastern states it usually is a minor component of the defoliator complex. It is likely a native insect, though its close relatives are native to Europe. Cross-striped cabbage-worm was accidentally introduced to Australia and Jamaica.

Host Plants. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, rutabaga, and turnip are among the vegetable crops known as hosts. Brussels sprouts and collards tend to support relatively large numbers of cabbageworms, and cabbage and kale relatively few. Other crucifers such as rape, and many weeds, likely support this insect.

Natural Enemies. Several parasitoids are known, including Cotesia congregata Say, C. xylina (Say), and C. orobenae Forbes (all Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Except for C. orobenae, the importance of the parasi-toids has not been thoroughly assessed, and predators and diseases are undocumented. Mays and Kok (1997) reported on C. orobenae, and showed that the occurrence of this parasitoid closely tracked the abundance of its host.

Life Cycle and Description. Development time, from egg to adult stages, ranges from 61 days at 20°C to 18 days at 35°C. The number of annual generations is three in Illinois, and four in Maryland. Cross-striped cabbageworm tends to be most abundant during the autumn generation in the north. In the south, however, it can be quite abundant during the winter-and spring-cropping period.

  1. The eggs are laid on the underside of leaves in small masses, usually from 3-5 to about 25. They are yellow, flattened, and overlap slightly. They are oval, measure about 1.2 mm long and 0.9 mm wide. They hatch in about 12.4 days when reared at 20°C and 1.8 days at 35°C, hatching most readily at 20-30°C.
  2. Four instars are reported for this species, with mean head capsule widths (range) of 0.34 (0.320.38), 0.56 (0.52-0.60), 1.04 (0.98-1.10), and 1.66 (1.581.71) mm, respectively, for instars 1-4. Mean duration of the instars, when cultured at 25°C, is 3.0, 2.0, 2.0, and 5.8 days, respectively. Small larvae are gray, with black tubercles bearing stout hairs. Larger larvae are bluish-gray dorsally, and with numerous transverse black bands. Transverse lines are relatively rare among caterpillars, and serve as a key diagnostic feature for this insect. The prominent tubercles are gray, marked with black. A yellow line occurs along each side of the caterpillar. The underside of the caterpillar is green, mottled with yellow. The mature larva measures about 15-17 mm long. Larval development requires 2-3 weeks. (See color figure 70.)
  3. Transformation into a pupa occurs in the soil, near the surface, in a small cocoon covered with particles of sand. The yellowish-brown pupa measures about 10-12 mm long. Duration of this stage is 9-11 days when reared at 30-20°C.
  4. The adult has a wingspan of about 25 mm. The front wings are straw-colored, but also marked with olive or purplish brown, and crossed by narrow transverse lines. The hind wings are transparent and whitish, with a darker band at the margin. The pre-oviposition period is 3-6 days, and the oviposition period 6-14 days, when reared at 20-30°C. Females oviposit readily at 20-30°C, but oviposition frequency decreases at higher and lower temperatures. Adults live for over 20 days if held under cool conditions, but survive for only 5-11 days at 30°C or above. (See color figure 207.)

Cross-striped cabbageworm larva.

Cross Striped Cabbageworm
Adult cross-striped cabbageworm.

The biology of cross-striped cabbageworm was given by Chittenden (1902) and Mays and Kok (1997). A key including the adult stage of cross-striped cabbageworm was contained in Munroe (1973). Cross-striped cabbageworm is included in the key to "cabbageworms" in Appendix A.


Larvae feed on foliage, creating small holes. They prefer the terminal buds. If disturbed, they have a tendency to drop from the foliage on a silken thread. Larvae also may burrow into the center of developing heads.


Cross-striped cabbageworm, along with several other lepidopterous defoliators, exhibits a positive response to nitrogen fertilization of host plants. However, indications are that unlike the case with piercing-sucking insects, it is not the increased nitrogen levels per se, but the increased foliar biomass that favors the abundance of the cabbageworms (Jansson et al., 1991b). In general, methods used for management of imported cabbageworm, Pieris rapae (Linnaeus), are appropriate for this insect.

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