About Fall Armyworm

Sixth Instar Caterpillar (Spodoptera frugiperda)

The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is now established and rapidly spreading throughout Africa. Thousands of small farmers will be caught off guard. They are not used to spraying insecticides to get a crop of maize.

We know from experience that by the time one can identify a fall armyworm caterpillar, it is often too late to control it. The worms are large and resistant to insecticides. The worms are buried in the whorl, where they are protected from contact with non-systemic insecticides.

For now, most African countries resist the notion of growing genetically modified maize to control armyworms and other Lepidopteran insects.

We know from experience that the key to armyworm control is early detection and early intervention, when the larva are small and before they settle into the whorl.

Early Detection is Key

The key to armyworm control is early detection and early intervention. The most effective method to detect early armyworm infestations is with a combination of field scouting and pheromone traps. Pheromone trap moth counts, alone, can be misleading.

Content Credit: Dr. Dan Kwame McGrath

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