Small scale farmers in Trans Nzoia County are crying foul of
fall army worm invasion to their farms during this planting season.
The county government through CEC agriculture has release
3000 liters of pesticides to help reduce the spread of the worms.
According to residents, different farms especially those
that have been already planted, shows the signs of the worm larvae which attack
a variety of crops as well as grasses.
Once the infest a farm, the worms are most active at night
and hide in plants and under garden debris during the day.
Types of army worms
The biggest invasion of army worms usually occurs after a
cool, wet spring –and farmers fear that their crops might be destroyed in the
There are two major types of army worms; Fall armyworms
(Spodoptera frugiperda) which are brown with yellow stripes, and beet armyworms
(Spodoptera exigua) –green with light stripes.
The adult worms are gray, mottled moths (1-1/2 inch
wingspan) with a small white dot in the center of each forewing and dark margins
on the hind wings.
According to Plant Natural, army worms are prolific and
responsive to favorable conditions. Their eggs are laid in fluffy masses on
crowns of seedlings and on leaves of older plants.
They destroy leaves of lettuce, cabbage, beans and Corn –which
is their favorite target –especially an early-season corn.
Army worm Prevention
The best method to control and prevent the spread of army
warms is through the use of natural predators, including birds, beneficial
insects, and other larvae predators.
The Plant Natural Research Center has defined guidelines a
farmer can use to control army worm invasion biologically, preventing harm to
A farmer should use pheromone traps to monitor the arrival
Look for larvae and signs of damage beginning in early
spring. Caterpillars will often be found feeding on the undersides of leaves
and on new growth.
Handpick the worms you discover and don’t be tempted to
crush them between your thumbs. Instead drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
Use beneficial insects, such as lacewing, ladybugs and
minute pirate bugs which feed on armyworm eggs as well as the young larval
stage. They help control other harmful pests, including aphids, earworms,
cutworms, cabbage loopers, a variety of mite and insect eggs.
Use Plants that attract birds and beneficial insects. Birds
are especially fond of the moths and will pull larvae from lawns and plants.
Applications of Garden Dust (Bt-kurstaki) or OMRI-listed
Monterey Garden Insect Spray (spinosad) will kill caterpillars.
Use multi-purpose neem oil spray which is effective on
various stages of the larvae as well as mites. It also prevents fungus growth.
Use fast-acting organic insecticides if pest levels become unbearable.