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May 25th, 2018 / African Science News

A new pest—southern armyworm, Spodoptera eridania (Stoll)—has been discovered in West and Central Africa!

Originating from the tropical regions of the Americas the fall armyworm (FAW) adult has a remarkable capacity for long distance migration and high female fertility. Its crop-destroying caterpillars can cause serious damage to maize but also to other important crops such as sorghum, rice, and vegetables.

According to Dr Georg Goergen, Entomologist/Biocontrol Specialist and Head of IITA’s Biodiversity Center in Bénin, the FAW was first found in the cassava fields of south-eastern Nigeria in December 2016. Its presence was confirmed by DNA barcode analysis at IITA headquarters in Ibadan.

The recent introduction of the FAW into the African continent and its growing threat to agriculture and food security have caused great concern in many of the 44 countries of tropical Africa invaded by this pest.

Farmers had first observed an outbreak of caterpillars that caused severe defoliation on cassava in a 450-hectare field near Ubiaja in southeastern Nigeria in late 2016. Read more