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May 24th, 2018 / IITA

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

This introduced second armyworm species from the Americas was first found in cassava fields in south-eastern Nigeria in December 2016, reported Dr Georg Goergen, Entomologist/Biocontrol Specialist and Head of IITA’s Biodiversity Center in Bénin. Its presence was confirmed by DNA barcode analysis at IITA headquarters in Ibadan.

The recent introduction of the fall armyworm (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. Originating from the tropical regions of the Americas the 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.

These attributes have made the control of FAW a challenging task. The development of management options adapted to Africa has mobilized international experts and the national capacities of affected countries and raised general attention to caterpillar attacks on various crops. Read more