THE FIRST OUTBREAK OF THE FALL ARMYWORM, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) IN MAIZE FIELDS IN NIGERIA

MAIZE FIELD RAVAGED BY ARMYWORM

The outbreak of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda in Nigeria is a great threat to national food security and livelihood of the farmers. Especially since maize is one of the staple foods consume by majority of the people and it also forms mainstay in most of the agro-based industries. The insect pest was found ravaging maize fields at an alarming rate causing as high as 100% damage. The pest was first noticed on some established maize fields in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria and reports were also received from Ogun State, Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) office and other farmers.

It is a well known economic pest of agricultural crops in the western hemisphere and endemic to some region of the world especially United States. Spodoptera frugiperda is a polyphagous pest with a wide host range including, cotton, maize, sorghum, cowpea, soybean.   The activity of this pest is insidious and its presence is often noticed only after the havoc is done. The pest is known to be capable of causing severe damage by feeding on the foliage of suitable crop, leading to heavy skeletonization/ defoliation. Leaves of heavily infested maize usually appear ragged. Maize tassels and cobs are also attacked under severe infestation. Young larvae are usually green in colour and feed deep inside the whorl of maize plant, while older larvae are usually brown.

It is a nocturnal pest with peak of its activity in the late evening and at night. Armyworms are sporadic pest which rarely occurs yearly in the same location. They are strong fliers and can migrate across thousands of kilometres of land. Rain shower after a long dry spell is one of the possible factors that could lead to pest outbreak. Infestation by armyworm could lead to total yield loss in the absence of quick control intervention. Therefore, in a quick response to the outbreak of 2016, an urgent survey was initiated and carried out by a team of scientists at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Obafemi Awolowo University, Apata, Ibadan with the following objectives:

-To know the spread of the pest.

– To create awareness among the farmers of the presence of the pest.

– To ascertain the extent of damage caused by the pest.

– To quantify the economic loss as a result of the insect attack.

– To find possible control measures.

After the survey, the Institute swung into action and immediately organized sensitization workshop for the farmers, ADP(s) officers in the affected states and other relevant stakeholders. Information about the pest and possible control measures were also spread through several print, radio and television media. Trainings were also organized for maize farmers.

While other control means are underway, the following insecticides were found to be effective against the armyworm infestation; Lambdacyhalothrin + Chlorantraniliprole (Ampligo) and Emamectin Benzoate (Ematex, Caterpillar force) based insecticides and Tihan.

The quick response to control the menace of fall armyworm is vital for enhancing food security in Nigeria: Therefore,

Say No to hunger

 

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