*ARMYWORM* – The Deadly Worm Ravaging Our Maize Farms
Ahmad G. Hussain
Received: 26th July, 2017; Accepted: 31st July, 2017
Most farmers in the country (especially cereal farmers) will be familiar with the ugly sight of the worm in their farms especially during the wet season. Earlier this year, the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture had raised alarm of the impending attack of the pest on crops – especially maize which is the primary host of the pest and cultivated in almost all parts of the country.
Picture. Armyworm, larva of a lepidopteran moth.
Armyworm is the larvae of moth belonging to the order lepidoptera, family noctuidae and genus Spodoptera with species all having a very wide host range. The common one in Africa being S. exempta also known as African Armyworm. The first report of the S. frugiperda, the Fall Armyworm which is native to America was reported by the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in 2016 to have entered the country through Ibadan, southwestern part of the country as being the first of its occurrence on the West African soil. It didn’t take the deleterious caterpillar much time before it spread across the country. It’s high fecundity and ability to produce large number of eggs enhanced it’s survival. The adult typically lay about 1000 eggs in her lifetime with six larval instars but cycles do overlap which makes them very devastating as you can have up to 3 generations in a season.
Picture B. Typical Damage Caused by Armyworm on Maize
In June 2017, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture through the Deputy Director of horticulture, Dr. Mike Kanu in his presentation, “The African Army Worm infestation and proposed control strategies in Nigeria” said that the ministry had projected a total of N2.98 billion for the intervention on 700,000 hectares across the states of the country. Details on how this is going to be carried out was not disclosed.
During my visit to one of the farms managed by Nexus Farm Planet, I came across the ‘little tiny devil’ (I was actually looking out for it, Lol! Don’t blame me) and there it was taking dwelling on the leaves of the young plants. The client had earlier complained about the leaves of few stands been ‘eaten up’ and looking like a mesh with of course the armyworm as the culprit. The worm is very devastating in the sense that it eats up almost anything that comes its way.
Controlling the worm can be quite tricky, if the infestation is detected at an early stage and the farm size is not very large, the farmer can resort to handpicking of the caterpillar. However, for the benefit of those with higher infestation on the farm, and covering some considerably high hectares, it is advised that you spray the pesticide Ampligo or Mixed Force late in the evening and frequently too (about 3 times) (Trade names are no necessarily endorsements by Momasfarm). Yep! That should do help. More importantly, is to quantify whether the infestation has reached an economic injury level.
For further information and advice or if you have a similar problem on your farm, you can reach this writer through the comment section!