The fall armyworm may have crossed the border into South Africa

Reports that have yet to be confirmed, indicate that the fall armyworm may have spread to the northern regions of South Africa in Limpopo province.

The fall armyworm invasion has destroyed large areas of maize in Zambia and Zimbabwe since December and more recently in Malawi, and is related to the African armyworm.

The pest, familiar to South American maize farmers, was seen for the first time in Western and Central Africa last year.

Jan Hendrik Venter of the South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), said he had seen pictures of the armyworm in Mokopane, but was waiting for confirmed, scientific conformation.

Venter appealed to SA farmers to contact him as soon as they saw any similar (or suspiciously similar) looking worm on their lands or crops at. Venter can be contacted at +27 72 348 8431 or +27 12 319 6384.

Species identification is in the hands of the Agricultural Research Council, Biosystematics Division, at the Plant Protection Research Division in Roodeplaat .

DAFF is also prepared to help farmers put together the most effective and environmentally friendly management plan, said Venter. “It is possible that the fall armyworm has pyrethroid resistance,” he said.

Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, pest control specialist and director at Griffon poison information centre, said that he too had received reports that could indicated the presence of fall armyworms in the Free State.

Farmers can contact him at +27 82 446 8946 or .

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