Life-history theory predicts a trade-off between the juvenile growth rate and adult traits related to survival. However, this hypothesized negative correlation is difficult to test robustly because many trade-offs are mild, and environmental variables, such as changes in nutrient availability, can ameliorate the trade-off or make it more pronounced. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the expression of the trade-off can be condition-dependent. In the present study, we first examined the pre-adult life-history traits of the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera, collected from northern, central, and southern China at different temperatures. We found that the northern China population has a significantly shorter pre-adult developmental time and higher growth rate than the southern China population as a result of adaptation to the decreased seasonal length. Then, we tested for a trade-off between the juvenile growth rate and adult lifespan in different temperature and nutrient conditions. We found a negative relationship between juvenile growth rate and adult lifespan under starvation or desiccation conditions; however, a continuous supply of sugar can diminish or obviate the apparent negative relationship, in which the adult lifespan did not show a significant difference in most of the comparisons. These results suggested a resource-mediated trade-off may exist between juvenile growth rate and adult lifespan. However, the adult size may have some positive effect on the lifespan under starvation and desiccation conditions, which may affect the expression of trade-off.