A team of Soil Scientists led by Prof. Lateef Taiwo at the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training, Ibadan, have detected Armyworms devastating maize farms around South-West ecology. Prof. Taiwo who made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Ibadan on Wednesday, said the Armyworm was part of the order of Lepidoptera, the larval life stage of a fall Armyworm moth, and can wreak havoc to crops if left to multiply.
“Its name is derived from its feeding habits, they strongly prefer grasses, cereals like maize, it can mercilessly eat the stem of the crop as well as the leaves.”
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Farmers are therefore advised to maintain farm hygiene and use improved varieties of vegetables resistant to the diseases. Prof. Taiwo added;
“Some of the improved seeds of vegetables can be obtained from National Horticultural Research Institute, while improved varieties of maize can be obtained from, Ibadan, as both have mandate on the crops. Farmers can also use control measures like chemical, biological control, use of botanicals that is the use of plant extracts; chemical control is not environment friendly though effective.”
Native to North America, armyworm moth got its name from its behaviour of moving across fields in an army-like fashion. As larvae consume available food sources, they migrate as an army to new host plants. Though they feed primarily on grasses (oats, wheat, fall rye, corn, barley, and forage grasses), they can be a pest of some vegetables (bean, cabbage, carrot, onion, pea, pepper, radish and sweet potato).
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Armyworm larvae vary in color from dark greenish-brown to black. On each side, there are long, pale white, orange, and dark brown stripes along the length of the abdomen. Mature larvae are approximately 1 ½ inches long. The head capsule is yellowish brown with a brown network of veins, giving it a mottled appearance.