The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is making headlines worldwide for all the wrong reasons. The caterpillar crop pest, native to the Americas, was reported in Africa for the first time last year and is now rapidly marching across the continent. It is a voracious pest of maize and other staple crops and has already destroyed tens of thousands of hectares of farmland. As such, it risks devastating smallholder livelihoods throughout Africa. Given that CABI scientists predict it could reach Europe and Asia in a matter of years, it looks set to quickly become a global problem.
The case for action against fall armyworm is overwhelming. On the ground, CABI will support national extension services to help farmers identify the pest quickly and accurately, contribute to awareness-raising and conduct studies to work out the best ways to control it that are not overly dependent on insecticides. Alongside these efforts, CABI also has a range of freely-available materials to help people understand and manage fall armyworm.
The Invasives Species Compendium datasheet on fall armyworm can be accessed here. The expert-written and peer-reviewed datasheet includes images showing damage and for help with identification; distribution table and maps; information on the species’ biology and ecology, and details of various methods of prevention and control. CABI is currently reviewing this datasheet to ensure it is as up-to-date as possible.
The Plantwise Knowledge Bank contains a range of materials on the pest which can be accessed here. These include pest alerts, factsheets on various management options and practical management guides in several languages, all written and verified by local experts.
CABI is also creating a Twitter collection to share the latest news from regarding S. frugiperda from CABI and other organizations, which you can see at the bottom of this post, or find here.
Given the scale of the problem, CABI and some of its partners are working hard to create more materials that can help with the management of this pest. For instance, in Ghana, the Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD) and the Plantwise programme are preparing photo sheets to help identification, and factsheets and pest management decision guides to inform extension staff, all of which can be adapted across Africa. These information aids will be disseminated in hard copy and through the Plantwise Knowledge Bank.
Fall armyworm – Curated tweets by CABI_Invasives: Spodoptera frugiperda