The Fall Armyworms are spreading like a wildfire and causing a havoc.
The fall armyworm can damage and destroy a wide variety of crops in its larvae stage which causes large economic damage. Larvae can also burrow into the growing point and affect the growth of plants. The larvae penetrate crops and feed from the inside. Larvae cause damage by consuming foliage. Young larvae initially consume leaf tissue from one side. The larvae may do the damage but the adult moths ensure the rapid spread of the pest. Moths are very strong flyers, covering vast distances, so the infestation can occur in very short time.
Fall armyworm larvae can wreak havoc on a wide range of crops based on their food preferences. Destruction can happen almost overnight because the first stages of a caterpillar’s life require very little food, and the later stages require about 50 times more.
The pest reproduces at a rapid speed; an adult female can lay up to 1844 eggs/female (Barros et al. 2010), and several and overlapping generations occur every year.
In its larval stage, it can cause significant damage to crops, if not well managed. The pest mainly feeds on maize/corn but can attack and survive on more than 100 plant species including rice, sorghum, sugarcane, cabbage, beet, peanut, soybean, alfalfa, onion, cotton, pasture grasses, millet, tomato, potato, etc. It poses an enormous and wide-scale risk to the agriculture sector and it stands to intensify global poverty and hunger.
It is estimated that almost 40% of those species that armyworms target are economically important.
The fall armyworm was first detected in Central and Western Africa in early 2016 and has quickly spread to almost all maize growing countries in Africa and reached South Africa in 2017. Because of trade and the moth’s strong flying ability, it has the potential to spread further. The farmer’s livelihoods are at risk as the non-native insect threatens to reach Asia and Europe.
The Fall armyworm has been reported to cause annual losses of US$600 million in Brazil alone.
There are 208 million people dependent on maize for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Maize also provides crucial income for small-holder farmers in the region.
Currently, more than 300 million Africans depend on maize as their main food source, and 46 of 53 countries in sub-Saharan Africa cultivate the crop.
Fall Army Worm has cost African economies billions of pounds in crop losses
Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi) chief scientist Dr. Matthew Cock said: “This invasive species is now a serious pest spreading quickly in tropical Africa and with the potential to spread to Asia.”
If proper control measures are not implemented, the fall armyworm could cause extensive maize yield losses of up to $6.2 billion per year in just 12 countries in Africa where its presence has been confirmed, according to the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI).
The damages are reported as follows:
Armyworm infestation breaches the Pacific
The recent spread of *Spodoptera frugiperda, *or Fall Armyworm (FAW), in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province is causing concern in the Pacific region.
Fall armyworm is a pest that preys on food crops such as maize (corn), sweet potato, vegetables, and wheat, and has the potential to cause significant damage to several important crops in PNG, including maize, sugarcane and rice.
The Pacific Community’s (SPC) Land Resources Division Pest and Management Advisor Fereti Atu warns the invasive pest can affect the region if precautions are not heeded. “We are closely monitoring the situation and have procured fall armyworm pheromone traps and lures from Costa Rica for distribution,” he said. “With the current rate of spread, the Melanesia island group faces a direct threat through this potential pathway initiated from Australia. It is now in PNG and next will very likely spread to the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, etc.”
Mr. Atu stated that the armyworm is also a biosecurity problem. “This moth is high flying, and it is very difficult to stop its spread. Moths caught in the whirlwind of cyclones in the southern belt from Africa to Southeast Asia could be one of the causes of it reaching the shores of Australia and then Papua. Stringent biosecurity measures, including lures at periphery of the infested area, should be adopted.”
Fall armyworm found near Broome
21 Apr 2020
The invasive pest fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) has been confirmed near Broome following earlier discovery of the pest in Kununurra.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has identified two specimens, the first collected on forage sorghum south of Broome and the second on Rhodes grass on a property east of Broome.
Fall armyworm is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas.
Since 2016 it has rapidly spread to and throughout Africa, the Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asia. It has been found in north Queensland and the Northern Territory.
DPIRD is working with growers and industry to help ensure industries are prepared for and can minimise the impacts of fall armyworm.
Pheromone traps have been distributed in Kununurra, Broome, Carnarvon and Geraldton, as part of surveillance to help determine spread of the pest.
Is there any solution available to combat these pests?
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