It is a tropical-subtropical species that causes damage to various crops, among which are varieties of high economic interest. It is present throughout the Iberian Peninsula, and in a more dispersed way it also appears in central Europe, southern Europe, northwest Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
When it is in adult state, it has 4 to 4.5 cm of wing span. The forewings have a golden brown color. It has a morphology similar to A. gamma, but differs from it in the anterior wings, with two oblique spots of silver color, trimmed with white, which are characteristic and differentiating from this plúsido.
Its larva has a small, sharp head, green, with a black lateral stripe. The body is bright green. It has fine white dorsal latero lines. The body is sharp and thickens towards the end. It has 3 pairs of thoracic legs and three pairs of false abdominal legs. It reaches 3.5 cm in length in its last stage.
It affects the aubergine, zucchini, bean, melon, cucumber, pepper, watermelon and tomato crops.
The life cycle is holometabolous. The caterpillar goes through egg, larva, pupa and adult states. The biological cycle is continuous, and in it the different states are superimposed, being able to pass the winter period in the form of larva, since it presents a notorious resistance to the cold.
The cycle begins with the reproduction, once the sexual maturity of the adults has been reached, which happens between 4 and 8 days. After the reproduction, the laying of the eggs begins (behind the leaves) and its development, which varies according to the temperatures, ranging from 3 days at 26ºC to 18 days at 12ºC.
The duration of embryonic development is from 5 to 25 days (20ºC). After the hatching of the eggs it appears in the first larval stage. The duration of the larval stage is 44 to 45 days (20ºC) and that of the pupa from 15 to 25 days at the same temperature.
The fecundity of the females is 500 eggs.
The caterpillars reach the last larval stage in which they weave a thin cocoon of silk on the underside of the leaves or in folds of them.
Its reproduction is sexual, oviparous.
The caterpillars can appear all year round, being more common that they appear at the end of summer and autumn, coinciding with the flights of the adults. They can overlap for generations in the same crop, usually presenting 2 to 3 generations per year.
The location of the pest and the damages will depend on the phenological state of the crop:
In young plants they are located in the tender parts. The larvae in their early stages of development are nocturnal and are located on the underside of the leaves.
In adult plants it is difficult to specify the distribution, larvae have been found at all levels, since the displacement movements are quite broad.
Within the crops there is no specific distribution, since this will depend on the patterns of oviposition that the females have followed in their movements for the crop.
Caterpillars have both daytime and nighttime activity. When they are small they feed on the parenchyma of the leaves, observing comeduras on the underside of these. In the following larval stages they become more voracious, the comeduras are larger, crossing the entire leaf.
For a fully developed crop, the presence of small larvae does not cause appreciable damage. However, in a recently transplanted crop, they can 'blind' the plant, affecting the apical bud.
The main damage caused to the crop is defoliation, especially in young plantations. Although they are made individually, the speed with which the larvae evolve favors the concentration of several in the same plant or nearby plants, which increases the degree of affectation.
The wounds caused by this plague facilitate the entry of other pathogens (fungi, bacteria, etc.)