Battling armyworm invasion

Farmers in India are already battling with a number of pests when suddenly a new invasive pest called as armyworm has invaded the fields in the country. After causing havoc on the maize fields in the African countries and devastating the livelihoods of farmers in Africa, the pest is identified in the Indian subcontinent.

The fall armyworm was identified on maize crops in the month of May. Now they are also reported to be seen in the sugarcane fields.

Fall armyworm can damage 30 to 60 percent of crops!!

The adult moth of the pest migrates very fast – almost 100 km every night and nearly 500 km before laying eggs. It can, therefore, invade new areas quickly. Also, each female moth is capable of laying 1,500 eggs on an average and the hatching caterpillars emerge with a voracious appetite. The entire lifecycle – from egg to new adult moth that lays fresh eggs – is completed in about 30 days during the summer months, while extending to 60-90 days in cooler temperatures. Since the summers last for long in the Indian continent, this pest can prove to be a threat to the farmers.

The pest thrives on a wide spectrum of host crop plants: maize, sorghum, rice, sugarcane, soyabean, vegetables, etc. Entomologists have detected the presence of the pest on sugarcane crops even as scientists at India’s premium institutes hope it doesn’t infest rice, which could be highly dangerous. 

Recent news reported that:

After Karnataka and Andhra, invasive pest destroys maize farms in Tamil Nadu

By Nirupa Sampath │Express News Service │December 15th 2018

CUDDALORE: A new kind of infestation caused by fall armyworm, an invasive pest, has begun its cycle of destruction in maize farms in and around Cuddalore and Villupuram districts of in northern Tamil Nadu.

The pest has since last year damaging crops in the neighbouring Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and this year spread into farmlands in Tamil Nadu.

According to Tamil Nadu Agriculture Department’s data, there are over 29,520 farmers cultivating maize in over 22,450 hectares inCuddalore district alone. Over 90 percent of these have faced loss this year, due to the damage caused by the fall armyworm that goes by the biological name Spodoptera frugiperda.

Fall Armyworm detected on sugarcane crops in Tamil Nadu

Worm found in four sugarcane fields in the districts of Erode and Karur

By Jitendra │December 10, 2018

Fall Armyworm in damaged corn shoot. Credit: Getty Images

Scientists have confirmed the presence of the Fall Armyworm (Spodopetra Frugiperda) in four sugarcane fields of two Tamil Nadu districts.

The Fall Armyworm caterpillar is native to North America. It is a polyphagous pest, which means that it feeds on many items. It is recorded as eating 186 plant species from 42 families. These include cereals and forage grasses. 

In 2016 and 2017, it had put food security at risk in the whole of Africa by destroying maize crops across the continent.

Agronomists strive to contain a brand new American pest

By Jayashree Bhosale, ET Bureau | October 13, 2018

India’s acute farm crisis has just been worsened by an American pestilence called fall armyworm and farmers, biologists and agronomists are scrambling to contain the attack. 

First detected in a field of maize in Karnataka in May, Bangalore’s National Bureau of Agriculture Insect Resource (NBAIR) confirmed presence of fall armyworm in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and now, in Maharashtra. 

Fall armyworm is native to the Americas and was first reported to have reached Africa in 2016. Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (Cabi) estimated in September that improper management of the armyworm could cost 10 of Africa’s major maize producing economies between $2.2 billion and $5.5 billion per year in lost maize harvests. 

Though known primary attacking maize fields, the fall armyworm also eats an additional 186 plant species, including sorghum and soya beans. Already, Maharashtra has detected a suspected fall armyworm attack on sugarcane in the state. 

Is there any solution available to combat these pests?

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