Hourly and nightly catches of Heliothis armiger (Hb.) and H. punctiger Wllgr. at a site adjacent to 2000 ha of commercial cotton in the Namoi Valley of New South Wales, were analysed in relation to various environmental factors and showed that wind speed, temperature, night-length and (H. armiger only) moonlight exerted a significant influence on trap-catch. For H. punctiger and H. armiger respectively, these factors accounted for 80 and 60% of the deviance in hourly catches but only 70 and 40% of the variation in nightly catches. Wind speeds of more than 1·7 m/s suppressed the catch of both species but had a greater effect on H. punctiger than H. armiger. Whereas with both species, the optimum temperature for trapping was about 27°C, temperature had a greater influence on the catch of H. punctiger than of H. armiger. Bright moonlight was estimated to reduce the catch of H. armiger by 49%, but no significant effect was detected for H. punctiger. The analysis revealed a number of occasions for both species in which the hourly distribution of catch and/or the change in catch between successive nights was aberrant. With H. armiger, these inconsistencies appeared to be associated with changes in population due to adult emergence, whereas for H. punctiger the most likely cause seemed to be changes due to movement. The combined effects of wind speed, temperature, night-length and moonlight were used to adjust the nightly catches of each species according to the environmental conditions prevailing on a ‘ standard’ night. This was defined as a typical summer's night with temperatures decreasing from 28·8°C at dusk to 20·6°C at dawn and ideal catching conditions, i.e. no moon and wind speed never exceeding 1·7 m/s. As such, the adjusted catches could be taken as indices of moth abundance. These showed that H. armiger had three discrete periods of abundance, characterised by the presence of large numbers of young moths and spaced at intervals suggesting successive generations. A similar pattern was lacking in H. punctiger, which was abundant only during the first half of the season. Except during periods of emergence (H.armiger), or once when spraying occured during daylight, the aerial application of insecticides to the cotton adjecent to the light-trap resulted in marked reductions in the populations of both species.