Researchers ponder biological intervention to fight Armyworms

The quickest and easiest way to eradicate the vicious armyworm is by getting predators to kill and eat them.

The County Executive member for Agriculture, Dr. Immaculate Maina said bringing to an end the use of chemicals which have a negative impact on the environment would also help greatly.

Maina said a predator has the capacity of eradicating the pests faster and conserve the environment at the same time.

The CEA said there were a number of farmers who had adopted the innovative method, which farmers in Runyenjes in Embu County used last year and proved to have some positive impact.

She said the method which had attracted the attention of the American scientist was the pouring of soup on maize plants which attracts ants ending up eating the armyworm.

Maina added that the simple idea reduced the loss of maize in Embu and she advised the local farmers to use it.

She said, in Embu the farmer who conceptualized the idea of soup was using fish soup, noting that any soup with strong smell to the ants was acceptable.

The armyworms that have ravaged 42 counties in the country were a migratory pest native to South America.

The pest occurs in large numbers and its larvae stage (caterpillar) cause severe damage to maize and over 80 other plant species in cereal and vegetable families.

Maina said the armyworm was a serious concern for scientists all over the world because it has proved to be a difficult pest to eradicate.

In Kenya, the pest was first reported in the Western region in March 2017.

However, by the end of last year, the pest had been confirmed in 42 counties.

Source: Kenya News Agency