How to identify and control Fall armyworm

How to detect and control fall armyworm in maize farming


What is Fall Armyworm FAW?

Fall armyworm is an insect pest with moths as the adult stage and larvae (caterpillars) as the destructive stage.

Maize and sorghum are the most preferred hosts even though it attacks a wide range of hosts causing up to 100% loss if left uncontrolled.

How to identify fall armyworm caterpillars
How to control fall armyworm
Different stages of Fall Armyworm FAW

The first instar larvae are very small and grey in colour while the second and third instars are greenish or yellowish-brown in colour and have hair like spikes.

The 4th to 6th instars are brownish and have a characteristic light-coloured “inverted y” mark on the head front, which links with the middle thin stripe.

There are four blocks dots in a square formation on the rear abdomen segment.

What are the damage symptoms of fall armyworm?
How to identify and control Fall armyworm
Symptoms of Fall Armyworm FAW

Young larvae (first to third instars stages ) feed on leaves, causing transparent windowpane like damage initially appearing as “scratch marks “ on the leaves.

Order larva; 4th and 6th instars cause large ragged and elongated holes on leaves, leading to a shredded appearance.

At the reproductive stages of the host plant, order larvae clip the tassels making shot holes on ears and feeding the grains.

Larvae produce large amounts of frass (excreta) as they feed and grow.

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How to control and manage fall army warm

Early scouting and monitoring. This involves looking for any crop damage, larva or eggs weekly starting from crop emergence stage to flowering stage.

The use of pheromone traps helps in identifying the presence of the pest and possible egg-laying.

Spray 15ml of thunder in 20litres of water late in the evening or early in the morning when the larvae are not hiding at two weeks intervals.

Reference

Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation

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