March of the Armyworm

By Stephanie Parker. Reblogged from Earth Island Journal.

farmer
Since fall armyworms invaded his maize fields in central Ethiopia last year, Mohamud Abdu has had little success controlling them. He estimates that he lost 50 percent of his crop in 2017. Photo: Stephanie Parker

Mohamud Abdu stands tall in his maize field in Alaba, Ethiopia, a small agricultural district over 200 kilometers south of the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. Smooth green leaves reach up to his waist. The field is off a dirt road where children ride old bicycles and the occasional wooden cart, pulled by donkeys and piled high with people, passes by.

The sea of green where Abdu stands looks lush and healthy at first glance. The maize stalks are planted closely together and the leaves rustle gently in the wind. But upon inspection, these leaves are riddled with holes and plant detritus litter the remainder. Abdu pries open the whorl of a nearby maize plant with his fingers, and takes out a small caterpillar, roughly an inch long. It squirms on his palm.

Continue reading at the Earth Island Journal→

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