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Current Position:Home » News » Recalls & Alerts » Alerts & Food Safety » Topic

Fall armyworm now found in India

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2018-10-30  Views: 17
Core Tip: The fall armyworm looks quite innocuous, being no larger than a matchstick.
The fall armyworm looks quite innocuous, being no larger than a matchstick. But when it was spotted it at the maize farms of southern Karnataka mid-2018, there was panic. And justifiably so.
The fall armyworm is a destructive pest, never seen before in India. Also known as Spodoptera frugiperda, it is a native of the Americas. But after making its way to Africa in 2016, it now appears to have found a home in India. The voracious pest, known to devastate a one-acre field in a week, could endanger the agricultural output of not just India but the rest of Asia, particularly China, the world’s second largest producer of maize, if it migrates further east.
The scientists found the larvae of the fall armyworm feeding on maize in every one of the five southern Karnataka districts they surveyed--Chikkaballapur, Hassan, Davanagere, Shivamogga and Chitradurga. In some fields in Chikkaballapur, the pest had affected more than 7 in 10 plants, which led to a nationwide pest alert.
Since then, identifying and speedily implementing measures to curtail the spread of the fall armyworm has become priority for India’s agricultural scientists.
The armyworms' favourite foods are maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, rice and wheat, while it is also capable of feasting on cowpea, groundnut, potato, soybean and cotton. And it has a tendency to spread to new territories fast.
“The fall armyworm has spread to states neighbouring Karnataka in barely one month,” Gopi Ramasamy, country director for India of the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, told IndiaSpend.
The insect “has not only invaded the maize crop in Maharashtra, the area adjoining the borders of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Gujarat but also sorghum and other millet crops in Telangana and the northern part of Karnataka.
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