Best practices to tackle the fall armyworm invasion

The Fall Armyworm is an insect that is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas. When there’s no natural control or good management, it can cause significant damage to crops.

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The Spodoptera frugiperda, known as fall armyworm, is a prime noctuid pest.

Sudden panic by agriculturalists due to a vicious invasion by fall armyworms.

Today’s edition sheds more light on the Spodoptera frugiperda a prime noctuid pest. Goergen et al. (2016) illustrated that outbreaks of the Spodoptera frugiperda commonly referred to as the fall armyworms usually accords with the onset of a wet season after a long period of drought.

These armyworms were first observed in a maize field in Nigeria in 2016, and seek their origin from the United States of America and the Caribbean islands.

The fall armyworms are avid pests that are a threat to crops and often prefer grainy plants such as maize, millet, sorghum, rice, wheat which are the mainstay of many countries in the world. They have also been observed to damage other agricultural crops like cow peas, groundnuts, potatoes, sugarcane and cotton.

Upon hatching, neonate larvae often bore into the target plant and develop under protected conditions, where pest controls do not penetrate (Adamczyk et al., 1999) an adaptation mechanism.

The mandibles of the fall armyworms have saw-like cutting edges, which enhance easy feeding. Day et al. (2017) stated that the mature fall armyworm moths are capable of migrating long distances with the aid of prevailing winds. Crops at different stages of development; germination, vegetative and flowering are still highly susceptible to fall armyworms.

The impact of fall armyworm in crop production

  • The Spodoptera frugiperda is a threat to top maize producing nations; USA, China, Brazil.
  • Pest controls in affected fields may cost millions of dollars.
  • Hampers trade as free zones are likely to be contaminated upon importation of contaminated crops.
  • Severe damage on crops.

Some of the countries affected by fall armyworms:

  • Kenya, Tanzania, Argentina, Uganda, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Benin, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and Mozambique

Pest control

  • Relevant government authorities may help all farming communities with subsidies on purchase of effective pest controls, and utilized when an outbreak occurs. Use of controlled moderately dangerous pesticides. In the long run, dangerous pesticides may contaminate underground water
  • To avoid resistance, use different pesticides to control fall armyworms
  • Establishment of pest monitoring and early warning systems would enhance easy containment of the fall armyworms before they spread

Dissemination of information

  • Awareness creation through all forms of media, when there is an outbreak
  • Collaborative work by researchers and scientists working towards development of pest controls ought to give a detailed summary on how and when to use these pesticides to different farming communities
Fun facts about fall armyworms
  • It was first reported in Nigeria, West Africa in early 2016.
  • An adult moth can travel over 100 kilometers per night, and with the aid of wind.
  • Fall armyworms are known to devour up-to 80 plant species, that are significant in the agriculture sector.
  • The fall armyworm reproduces quickly, and an adult female can lay more than a 1000 eggs in her lifetime.

In conclusion, fall armyworms have a negative effect on agriculture as they reduce yield drastically. Relevant information must be communicated to the public so as to facilitate mitigation strategies to fight the fall armyworms.


Adamczyk Jr, J. J., Leonard, B. R., & Graves, J. B. (1999). Toxicity of selected insecticides to fall armyworms (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in laboratory bioassay studies. Florida Entomologist, 230-236.

Day, R., Abrahams, P., Bateman, M., Beale, T., Clottey, V., Cock, M., ... & Gomez, J. (2017). Fall armyworm: impacts and implications for Africa. Outlooks on Pest Management, 28(5), 196-201.

Goergen, G., Kumar, P. L., Sankung, S. B., Togola, A., & Tamò, M. (2016). First report of outbreaks of the fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (JE Smith) (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), a new alien invasive pest in West and Central Africa. PloS one, 11(10). the Suite of Apps for Livestock Management
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