Scarce Bordered Straw/Cotton Bollworm Helicoverpa armigera

caterpillar in cabbage
caterpillar in cabbage
caterpillar in cabbage
This caterpillar was found in a London store-bought cabbage - probably imported but the owner didn't know the country of origin (or whether UK or foreign). She returned the cabbage and its stowaway to the store shortly after I had photographed it in her kitchen, so it is unlikely that it finished its larval stage. It is a significant pest worldwide to cultivated plants, called the Old World or African Bollworm and Cotton/Corn Ear Bollworm in North America and the Tomato Fruitworm in Australia/NZ. In UK, it is occasionally brought in on Mediterranean flowers or vegetables and also appears as a migrant moth, the Scarce Bordered Straw. Although the moth background colour varies a little, the caterpillar colouring varies enormously, mainly in greens, yellows, browns and blacks. It is always stripey and there is always a "saddle" on its fourth segment and a half collar.