The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) is an invasive pest native to Americas. FAW is known to attack more than one hundred plant species, including major crops like maize, rice, sorghum, cotton, soybean, fruits and vegetables etc. The pest accounts for annual crop losses in excess of Rs. 3500 cr in USA. It has recently been observed invasive to India (Southern and Western part). S. frugiperda was confined to American continents till 2015. The pest was reported for the first time out of American continents in 2016 from Benin, Nigeria, Togo and Sao Tome and Principe of Africa and in 2018 it has been spread into 43 African countries causing significant loss to maize production.
This pest was reported for the first time in Asia in May 2018 from Shivamogga of Karnataka, India by Sharanbasappa et al., 2018 on Maize. Till June, 2019 this pest had been reported from 20 states viz., Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar, Rajastan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram.
Continuing its journey the pest has reached already Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, China Taiwan and Korea. In July, 2019 it has been reported from Minamikyushu city, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.
Many research institutes, government agencies, NGOs, state level organizations and farmers are trying hard to contain this pest. However, its ability to spread and infest new areas always kept FAW on radar.
This pest is going to stay here for long and combat between FAW and farmers will continue.
By P.R. Shashank and Timmanna
Scientists at Division of Entomology, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi