Although more than 120 families of short interspersed nuclear elements (SINEs) have been isolated from the eukaryotic genomes, little is known about SINEs in insects. Here, we characterize three novel SINEs from the cotton bollworm, Helicoverpa armigera. Two of them, HaSE1 and HaSE2, share similar 5' -structure including a tRNA-related region immediately followed by conserved central domain. The 3' -tail of HaSE1 is significantly similar to that of one LINE retrotransposon element, HaRTE1.1, in H. armigera genome. The 3' -region of HaSE2 showed high identity with one mariner-like element in H. armigera. The third family, termed HaSE3, is a 5S rRNA-derived SINE and shares both body part and 3'-tail with HaSE1, thus may represent the first example of a chimera generated by recombination between 5S rRNA and tRNA-derived SINE in insect species. Further database searches revealed the presence of these SINEs in several other related insect species, but not in the silkworm, Bombyx mori, indicating a relatively narrow distribution of these SINEs in Lepidopterans. Apart from above, we found a copy of HaSE2 in the GenBank EST entry for the cotton aphid, Aphis gossypii, suggesting the occurrence of horizontal transfer.