Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Pest Science 90 (2017), pp. 433–445. doi:10.1007/s10340-016-0802-3


Copyright © 2016 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Used by permission.


The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) and the corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie) are among the main pests of maize. Both species exhibit cannibalistic behavior and quite often share the same feeding guild in maize (maize ears), which can result in several interspecific and intraspecific interactions. Paired interaction scenarios of intraspecific and interspecific larvae were assessed in arenas in the presence and absence of food to characterize movements resulting from interactions of these insects. There was a difference in the frequency of behavioral movements in all the interactions, except for S. frugiperda in the presence of food. Head touching and recoiling were the predominant movements in most of the interaction scenarios. Spodoptera frugiperda exhibited a predominance of defensive movements when competing against H. zea in the same instars. Cannibalism and predation occurred frequently in interactions involving 6th instar of H. zea against opponents in 4th instar. Larvae of H. zea show a higher aggressive movement than S. frugiperda. The larvae of S. frugiperda take advantage during the interactions, although they present more defensive movements compared to H. zea. This study provides relevant information regarding the interaction of these species and intraguild interaction, which might influence the population dynamics and the competitive displacement of pest species that share the same ecological niche.