Abstract 【Aim】 Heavy metal pollution has become one of important environmental issues globally. This study aims to evaluate the effects of cadmium exposure on the flight performance of the beet armyworm, Spodoptera exigua, a migratory insect. 【Methods】 Insect flight information system was used to study the flight performance of female and male adults of S. exigua at different ages (1, 3, 5 and 7 day-old), which were fed with the artificial diets containing different concentrations of cadmium (0, 0.20, 0.80, 3.20 and 12.80 mg/kg), respectively. 【Results】 There were significant differences in the flight performance of S. exigua adults exposed to different concentrations of cadmium. The 3 day-old female adults stressed by low concentration of cadmium (0.20 mg/kg) were the best fliers with the longest average flight distance (36.96 km). The flight performance of S. exigua adults exposed to 0.20 mg/kg cadmium was not significantly different from that of the control. With the increase of cadmium concentration, the flight performance of both male and female adults decreased significantly. The negative effects of heavy metal cadmium stress on the performance of male adults were more obvious than on that of female adults. 【Conclusion】 Different concentrations of cadmium stress have significant effects on the flight performance of S. exigua adults of different ages and different sexes.