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Know About Fall Armyworm and Its Lifecycle

Swati Sharma
Swati Sharma
Fall Armyworm

The fall armyworm belongs to the family in the order Lepidoptera and is the larval life stage of a fall armyworm moth. The term armyworm depicts several species, often reporting the large-scale invasive behavior of the species at larval stage. It is known as a pest that can damage a wide variety of crops and hit the economy. Its scientific name is derived from frugiperda,Latin for lost fruit, named because of the species’ capacity to knock down crops.

Local Reach

The fall armyworm is widely spread out in eastern and central North America and South America. It can’t sustain in freezing temperature, so it only survives in the winter most of the southern regions of the United States, namely Texas and Florida. It is a significant pest in South-Eastern states. However, seasonally you can find them in the Eastern United States and Southern Canada as well.

Instigate Range

Fall armyworm is expanding its range beyond the native scope to other places. S. frugiperda was first found on the African continent in 2013 in Sao Tome, then spread through Nigeria, Benin, Togo, and Ghana.

It was first verified in Africa in 2016, causing tremendous damage to maize crops and the capability for further spread and economic damage.

In December 2018, it began to unroll widely in India. In January 2019, a heavy infestation of fall armyworm was recorded in corn plantations in Sri Lanka.

Apart from the above, fall armyworm was detected in China and Bangladesh also.

Food Resources

Caterpillar armyworm’s diet comprises grasses and grain crops such as corn, but the species has been eminent to consume over 80 different plants. Armyworms justify their name by eating all plant matter they encounter in their expansive dispersals, like a large army.

Cannibalism is another characteristic of the worm. Larvae will cannibalize the larvae of smaller instars. A study showed that cannibalism only benefits the caterpillar when other food is scarce.

Adult moths sip nectar from flowers such as that of witch hazel.

Life Cycle

The fall armyworm’s life cycle is around 30 days during summer and 60 days during the spring and autumn seasons, 80-90 days during the winter. The number of generations a moth will have in a year depends on the weather, but a female will typically lay about 1500 eggs in her life span.

Prevention of crop from fall armyworm

Use natural predators on your farm. That can be a harder one to manage, but birds and beneficial insects can destroy armyworms. Beneficial insects include ladybugs, lacewings, and Trichogramma wasps. The Trichogramma wasps insert their eggs inside pest eggs, killing the larvae.

The fall armyworms in the soil can be controlled using a range of non-chemical methods, such as providing adequate fertilization to the crop. Carefully spot your maize to check if there is noticeable damage. Sometimes, insecticide application is not required.

Are armyworms poisonous to humans?

After the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the caterpillar, killing it. These wasps are not harmful to humans, animals, or other beneficial insects.

However, this pest is enormouslydamaging the human economically; they act like cutworms on grasses and food crops, they often skeletonize larger leaves. On some crops such as corn or fruits/melons, they can bore into the cob or fruit to eat.

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