Invasive Armyworms Threaten to Bring Mass Hunger to Africa

Sputnik News – February 6, 2017

An African staple crop is under threat from an alien arrival on its shores: the devastating fall armyworm that was first detected on the continent last year.

The fall armyworm was first identified in West and Central Africa in early 2016. Now, it is destroying maize crops in Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Reuters and South African media report — only a year after the worst drought in decades laid waste to crops and left millions in need of assistance.

UN Food and Agriculture Organization has called an emergency meeting from February 14 to 16 in Harare to come up with a response to the threat. The South African government is already calling on chemical suppliers to apply for an emergency registration of pesticides to try to fight the infestation, local media report.

Armyworms are so named because they sometimes move in large masses from one area to another like an army. Arriving as moths, they lay eggs in plants, and they love corn. Armyworms have been known to destroy as much as 90% of crops they infest, according to Bloomberg.