Fall armyworm threatens maize, other crops

ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

20 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Fall armyworm, a dreaded pest native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, was found in the maize fields in parts of the country and may end up affecting the production of maize and some other crops.

Fall armyworm is a lepidoptera pest that feeds in large numbers on the leaves and stems of more than 80 plant species, causing major damage to economically important cultivated grasses such as maize, rice, sorghum and sugarcane but also other vegetable crops and cotton.

“At the end of 2018, caterpillar fall armyworm has been reportedly found in some maize fields in Kushtia and Chuadanga,” said Professor Dr Mohammad Shaef Ullah, head of Entomology at Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).

“During the early growing season of crops, fall armyworm becomes a threat by feeding on seedlings,” he said, adding that it also feeds on maize plant during the appearance of corn kernels.

Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) Director General Amitav Das told the daily sun that the attack of fall armyworm is at its primary stage.

He said they are advising the farmers to control the attack of the moth with pheromone trap and nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV).

Professor Mohammad Shaef said the failure to control the spread of the new pest may affect the country’s food security as it can spread to other plants and vegetables very quickly.

“The DAE can play a significant role in controlling the spread of this insecticide-resistance caterpillar,” he said, adding that pheromone trap, light trap and trap cropping system can help control the spread of armyworm.

The fall armyworm (scientific name Spodoptera frugiperda) is a moth, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, has been repeatedly

intercepted at quarantine in Europe and was first reported from Africa in 2016 where it is causing significant damage to maize crops and has great potential for further spread and economic damage.

It has created a food crisis in some South African countries in 2017 and in 2018 it also reported to attack crops in the Indian state of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

It has been spread around 38 courtiers till now, it can travel up to 100 km in one night and can affect 138 species of crops, experts said.

A female adult moth can lay approximately 150-200 eggs which are laid in two to four layers deep on the surface of the leaf and it may lay up to 1000 eggs in 10-12 days. Egg maturity takes 2-3 days (20-30°C).