Ludhiana: The scientists at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, have issued advisory for managing fall armyworm in maize. Tracing the history of the insect, P K Chhuneja, head of entomology department said the fall armyworm insect is native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas and a noxious pest of the maize.
“It was first seen in Africa in 2016 as accidental introduction into the continent and soon spread to 40 African countries within a year. In India, the pest was reported in May 2018 in Karnataka, and within a year, it had infested almost all the states of the country. In Punjab, it was first noticed in the farmers’ fields in August 2019, and by end September, the insect was found infesting late sown fodder maize in various districts. In the current kharif season, its infestation has been reported in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Pathankot, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts,” he said.
Chhuneja said the fall armyworm prefers to feed on 10-40 days old crop, therefore, at this time, farmers are advised to be highly vigilant for its attack in their fields, as the crop is currently at the most preferable stage for the pest. He further added that timely control at this critical stage will reduce the population build up that will minimise the possibility of subsequent damage at the flowering stage.
“Correct identification, vigilant monitoring and immediate control measures are keys to curtail its damage,” cautioned the scientist, while clarifying that the larva can be identified from four spots in square pattern at tail end and white coloured inverted Y-shaped mark on the head. “The larvae vary among greenish brown, light brown or light grey in colours. The female lays eggs in groups of 100-150 eggs on lower or upper surface of the leaves. Young larvae feed by scraping the leaf surface making papery windows. Later on, the larvae prefer to damage the central whorl leaves feeding voraciously causing round to oblong holes with large amount of faecal matter. The damage starting in patches spreads rapidly in the entire field if not monitored carefully and managed timely,” he added.
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