Epizootics caused by a nuclear polyhedrosis virus in populations of spodoptera exigua in southern Spain
A nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV) has been identified as the etiological agent causing epizootics in natural populations of Spodoptera exigua in the south of Spain. The incidence of this NPV has been determined from samples of larvae collected from sunflower fields and vegetable greenhouses at two sites located 500 km apart. The NPV was the only disease agent identified at both sites. Through the period surveyed the percentage of NPV?infected larvae increased from 4.3% to 23% and from 22.5% to 100% in S. exigua larvae collected from sunflower fields and vegetable greenhouses respectively. No mortality attributed to the NPV was found in Spodoptera littoralis, Heliothis armigera, Peridroma saucia and Plusia gamma larvae collected in the same survey from the same sites. This is the first report of epizootics caused by NPV in S. exigua populations in field and greenhouse crops in Europe.