Symptoms are observed on buds, flowers, and stems of the plant. Top shoots of plants infested at an early growth stage will droop and wither. Older plants become stunted. Shriveling and shedding of flower buds severely affect the fruit-bearing process. Leaves show withered and dried appearance. Bore holes are located on shoots and fruits, plugged with excreta. By boring the shoots, the budworm causes withering of terminal shoots, which is referred to as dead hearts.
The main damage is caused by the larvae of Scrobipalpa (Blapsigona species). The moths are medium sized with whitish to copper red fringed wings. The forewings are whitish brown, the hindwings are pale grey and more or less whitish tinged. Initially, their larvae appear pale with pink tinge dark brown head and chest and develop to brown caterpillars. It bores itself into stems of seedlings and feeds on internal tissues. This causes stem galls, sprouted side branches, stunted or distored growth and withered plants. When the budworm bores into flower buds, it will cause the flower to drop off and in turn, the plant cannot produce many fruits. These caterpillars normally feed late in the day and are also considered as an important pest in tobacco.
Parasitoids including Microgaster sp., Bracon kitcheneri, Fileanta ruficanda, Chelonus heliopa can be used to limit the budworm infestation. Encourage the activity of larval parasitoids like Prisomerus testaceus and Cremastus flacoorbitalis. Natural enemies like Broscus punctatus, Liogryllus bimaculatus should be promoted. Spray neem seed kernel extract @ 5% or Azadirachtin EC containing neem oil. Products based on pathogens Bacillus thuringiensis, Beauveria bassiana (entomopathogenic fungus) can be applied at first sight of the pest and should be repeated if necessary.
Always consider an integrated approach with preventive measures together with biological treatments, if available. Take action when 3 - 10% of young plants are damaged but avoid unnecessary spraying and broad-scale insecticides, as they may kill beneficial insects. Don't spray at the time of fruit maturing and harvest. Insecticides based on Chlorpyrifos, Emamectin benzoate, Flubendiamide, Indoxacarb can be applied to control the pest.