Egyptian cotton leafworm is highly polyphagous and has hosts in 40 plant families; that contain at least 87 species of economic importance. Among the main crop species attacked by S. litura in the tropics are alfalfa, apples, cotton, flax, groundnuts, jute, grapes, maize, rice, soybeans, tea, tobacco, vegetables (Brassica, Capsicum, cucurbit vegetables, Phaseolus, potatoes, sweet potatoes, Vigna etc.). Other hosts include ornamentals, wild plants, weeds and shade trees (e.g., Leucaena leucocephala, the shade tree of cocoa plantations in Indonesia).
The Egyptian cotton leafworm is similarly one of the most destructive agricultural pests within its subtropical and tropical range. It can attack numerous economically important crops all the year round. On cotton, the pest may cause considerable damage by feeding on the leaves, fruiting points, flower buds and, occasionally, also on bolls. When groundnuts are infested, larvae select primarily the young folded leaves for feeding but, in severe attacks, leaves of any age are stripped off. Sometimes, even the ripening kernels in the pods in the soil may be attacked. Pods of cowpeas and the seeds they contain are also often badly damaged. In tomatoes, larvae bore into the fruit which is thus rendered unsuitable for consumption. Numerous other crops are attacked, mainly on their leaves.
The Egyptian cotton leafworm is not known to occur in Indiana.