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(invertebrate zoology)
A large family of dull-colored, medium-sized moths in the superfamily Noctuoidea; larva are mostly exposed foliage feeders, representing an important group of agricultural pests.



(owlet moths), a family of Lepidoptera. The wingspread ranges from 1 to 30 cm (in Erebus odora—the largest moth) but most often is between 3 and 5 cm. The antennae are usually setaceous, but in some species they are pectinate. The elongate, triangular fore wings are in most cases gray or brown with characteristic markings of three spots (a round one, a kidney-shaped one, and wedge-shaped one) and several wavy diagonal stripes. The hind wings are wider and more rounded than the fore wings; they are gray or, less commonly, red or yellow with black bands. The larvae have five or, less frequently, three or four pairs of abdominal legs. They are generally naked or have slightly noticeable setae. Only larvae of the subfamily Apatelinae are pilose. Pupation occurs in soil “cradles” or, in some species, in fragile cocoons on plants. Most noctuids, including both adult and larval forms, are active at night.

There are about 20,000 species (according to other data, as many as 30,000) distributed throughout the world. More than 2,000 species occur in the USSR. Owlet moths include many agricultural and forest pests. Field and garden crops are damaged by Agrotis segetum and Agrotis exclamationis. Barathra brassicae infests cabbage and sugarbeet crops, and Heliothis armiger and Plusia gamma attack industrial, cucurbitaceous, and other crops. Grain crops are damaged by Hadena sórdida and Parastichtis basilinea, and coniferous forests are infested by Panolis flammea.

Control measures include the implementation of progressive agricultural techniques (for example, deep autumn plowing), the use of entomophagous organisms (for example, Trichogramma), and, in the case of massive infestations, dusting or spraying plantings and seeds with insecticides.


Pospelov, S. M. Sovki-vrediteli sel’skokhoziaistvennykh kul’tur, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1969.
Kozhanchikov, I. V. Sovki (podsemeistvo Agrotinae). Moscow-Leningrad, 1937. (Fauna SSSR: Nasekomye cheshuekrylye, vol. 13, issue 3.)
Merzheevskaia, O. I. Sovki (Noctuidae) Belorussii. Minsk, 1971.
Spuler, A. Die Schmetterlinge Europas, 3rd ed., vols. l-t. Stuttgart, 1908–10.


References in periodicals archive ?
List of noctuid species collected from Guanajuato, with (*) indicating new records for Mexico, and distribution according to MEM (2012) and Ne-arctica (2013).
Impact of Bt cottons expressing one or two insecticidal proteins of Bacillus thuringiensis Berliner on growth and survival of noctuid (Lepidoptera) larvae.
Vyas BN, Ganesan S, Raman K, Godrej NB and KB Mistry Effects of three plant extracts and achook: a commercial neem formulation on growth and development of three noctuid pests.
Felton GW, Donato K, Del Vecchio RJ, Duffey SS, Activation of plant foliar oxidases by insect feeding reduces nutritive quality of foliage for noctuid herbivores.
In this study, induced responses of Lepidium virginicum to herbivory reduced feeding by generalist noctuid caterpillars in choice and no-choice experiments.
The butterflies and moths (order Lepidoptera) are represented by the diurnal skippers (Hesperidae), the noctuid moths (Noctuidae), and some small lepidopterans that are remarkably abundant.
Effect of constitutive and herbivore-induced extractables from susceptible and resistant soybean foliage on nonpest and pest noctuid caterpillars.
Seasonality and life cycles of woody plant-feeding noctuid moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in Mediterranean habitats.
This value compares with uncorrected ND1 divergence values of 9% for Noctuid moths representing different subfamilies (Pashley and Ke 1992).
Many of these species--particularly those the owls depend on early in the breeding season (May and June)--belong to the Noctuid family of moths (appropriately called owlet moths).