Farmers in Kirinyaga County have been put on high alert after Fall Army Worms invaded the area leaving 600 acres of maize crop destroyed.
Following the invasion, the Head of the Plant Protection Services at the State Department of Agriculture Phinius Nyaga visited the County to assess the situation.
After touring the affected sections of maize crop, the official later presented to farmers 1,500 liters of an assortment of insecticides to combat the invading worms.
He told farmers not to mistake the Fall Army worms with the normal army worms which were black and easy to control since they were non-migratory.
Fall Army Worms are new to the country having been detected only from February this year in some parts of Western Kenya upon migrating from the neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania, he said.
He said unlike army worms, the Fall Army Worm bore four distinctive square marks near its tail and a Y mark on the head and was a migratory pest.
Nyaga further told the farmers to ensure they sprayed at the right time for best results.
Immediately you notice some hatching of caterpillars, this is the time to spray them with a combination of the prescribed insecticides to achieve optimum results as this is the time they cause massive destruction on the crops while feeding on the green fresh leafs,” he said
He said once the caterpillar matured, it turned into a cocoon which then hatches into a flying moth.
The official said the moth could fly for about 100 kilometers at night which enables it to migrate to new farmlands with ease before starting its cycle by laying eggs.
Nyaga who was accompanied by Dr Zachary Kinyua from the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO), said the pest must be combated repeatedly until it was completely controlled.
So far, the pest has been reported in 26 Counties while it has destroyed over 200,000 hectares of maize crop especially in Western Kenya and parts of Uasin Gishu, according to Nyaga.
Source: Kenya News Agency