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Government & Municipal News
24 February 2017

North West – The Bokone-Bophirima Provincial Government (North West Province) through the Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) have received an alarming amount of reports of the Fall Armyworm (FAW) within the Province.

Subsequently, the Department has established a Provincial Technical Committee (PTC) in this regard to urgently assess the suspected areas, starting from Bojanala District this week and to move over to  Ngaka Modiri Molema District shortly afterwards. The Limpopo Province has already confirmed the spread.

The Fall Armyworm

Whilst the province-wide survey is underway, a Contingency Plan of Action has been developed and resourced to drastically contain any possible outbreak. Several Operational Teams led by the PTC will swiftly perform rigorous scouting for confirmation of FAW within the suspected areas in the province. In that light, effective and efficient control measures will be rolled out on an emergency basis before the end of the week.  In doing this the Department hopes to avert the spread of FAW and possible economic losses which may be incurred by crop farmers to this effect.

Following the recent rainy weather, the North West province has seen a rise in the multitude of insects. This happens mainly when the temperatures increase after the clouds disperse. FAW made its first appearance in the country recently and the continuing rainy weather is likely to give rise to it. It has been identified as potentially harmful with it having made its first appearance and notable damage in Southern Africa. 

It poses a threat to producers due to the pace at which it is spreading. This pest prefers maize plants but may also target vegetables such as cabbage, pepper varieties, soya, grain sorghum, sunflower, dry beans, wheat barley and pasture.

In order to help farmers identify the FAW, Senior Researcher at ARC, Entomology, Dr Annemie Erasmus says the FAW can sometimes be mistaken for a bollworm.

She advises as follows, The FAW larval most distinguishing feature is an inverted white Yshape on its forehead. The larvae initially have a green colour, which changes to a green-brown colour as they mature.

The larval stage can last between 16 and 30 days, depending on temperature and humidity. The fully grown larva becomes a pupa in a pupal case in the soil. The moth emerges after about a week and lays eggs on vegetation around grass areas. Female moths can lay 1000 eggs. Larvae will emerge from eggs within three to four days.

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