Updates from the Armyworm Network

Latest African and Fall Armyworm Forecast from ETOP – 8th Jul 2017


African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) (AAW) infestations were reported in June in Ethiopia and Uganda, where control operations were carried out with material and technical assistance from the MoA (DLCO-EA, IRLOC-CSA, PPD/Uganda).

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) (FAW) continued affecting maize sorghum, and other crops in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe during June. The pest continues its northward migration following the inter-tropical front and taking advantage of the associated rain to breed. No update was received from other countries during this month (DLCO-EA, IRLCO-CSA, PPD/Uganda, PHS/Tanzania). At its current speed of travel across Africa, FAW will likely take advantage of the seasonal wind trajectory and continue its migration and reach beyond eastern Africa to invade outside the region and perhaps its reach will continue beyond the boundaries of the continent.


African Armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) (AAW):

AAW outbreaks continued affecting sorghum crops and pasture in Dire Dawa, Oromya and the SNNPR, Ethiopia, where 60 districts were affected more than 80,300 ha of crops and 35,420 ha of pasture and control operations treated close to 27,960 ha using 38,384 liters of pesticides. AAW outbreaks were not reported in other breeding areas during this period (DLCO-EA, IRLCO-CSA. PPD/Uganda).

Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) (FAW):

FAW continued affecting maize, sorghum, and/or other crops in many countries in eastern and southern Africa including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe during June. No update was received on FAW in West and Central Africa regions and significant developments are not expected during this period.

In Ethiopia, FAW continued its north and western spread and had reached three more administrative regions – Amhara, Benishangul Gumz and Tigray increasing the number of administrative regions affected to 6 (six), including SNNPR, Oromia, Gambella. By mid-June more than 294,201 ha were reported affected, 4,807 peasant association in 347 districts in 46 zones. Control operations were carried out on more than 187,605 ha and more than 88,950 l/kg of pesticides were utilized. In previous month, MoA/Ethiopia estimated crop losses of up to 15–30% in SNNP and 5–10% in Oromia where some localities reported 100% loss). The most recent estimate puts some 5% possible harvest loss across the affected regions of the country. This estimate could increase as the pest continues affecting crops and pasture in other regions of the country. A CRS Farmer2Farmer volunteer is working with MinAgri/CPD shared information and documents on FAW identification, surveillance, tools and techniques of monitoring, control measure. The volunteer also made a presentation at Debre Berehan University in collaboration with faculty and staff from the university’s Agricultural Research Center.

In Kenya, FAW outbreak continued affecting rain-fed maize crops in June where the pest has been affecting all counties except Garissa, Wajir Mandera, Isiolo and Marsabit. Country-wide control campaign led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries is in progress. Note: most of the original infestations in Kenya were reported in the western and Rift Valley parts of the country which suggests that the pest might have migrated from Uganda. Kenya estimates 20-25% crop loss overall due to FAW and allocated substantial amount of resource, both monetary and personnel to counter the pest that has already attacked and/or threatened maize crops in most of its maize growing countries. National Ag research centers are aggressively researching for effective and sustainable control tools.

Irrigated maize crops in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe are also affected by the pest where control operations are implemented by the affected farmers with technical and material assistance from the Ministries of Agriculture. Damage estimates were not yet available at the time this report was compiled, but during May the pest was reported threatening more than 200,000 ha of maize crops (IRLCO-CSA).

FAW has been reported in the Republic of South Sudan (SSD) during June where outbreaks were detected in Eastern, Central and Western Equatorial and Northern Bahr El Ghazal. The pest was reported attacking maize crops in Eastern and Western Equatorial (Nzara and Tambura Counties) and feeding on young sorghum plants in Northern Bahr Al Gazal. It was detected in Jubik State during the 3rd dekad of June.

As of June 27, FAW was reported in Eastern Equatorial State in Magwi Country in SSD where late planted (mid-April) maize crops in 25% of the fields visited were reported affected D). By late June the pest was also reported in Jubik, Central Equatorial, Northern Bahr El Gazal on sorghum, and in Western Equatorial State in Nzara and Tambura Counties on maize crops. According to FAO/SSD, the pest was first detected by farmers in Magwi County in Eastern Equatorial State in areas adjacent to northern Uganda where it was observed attacking late planted maize crops during mid-May, but extension staff where unable to determine whether it was African armyworm or FAW until a field photo was shared with OFDA/PSPM senior technical advisor who identified the pest. Access to the affected areas in iMagwi County was not possible to FAO staff due to the security situation in the region. The first FAO/SSD field visit to the affected areas in Magwi County took place during the 3rd dekad of June where staff could travel with a UNMISS convoy and assess maize fields that were affected. The preliminary assessment suggested serious crop damage in 25% of the fields that were affected. Early planted maize fields were largely free from the pest attack. There is a concern among FAO field staff that the ongoing security situation, poor infrastructure (bad road), lack of expertise and trained staff, as well as absence of materials, application and personal protection equipment, etc., will undermine implementation of effective and timely control interventions. The pest has gained political attention from GoSSD and funds will likely be allocated, but procurement of pest control commodities may take a while and a timely delivery of essential materials will need a concerted efforts and expedited actions. In the absence of alternatives, FAO field staff will encourage farmers and local communities to implement mechanical and other traditional means of control, e.g., handpicking larvae, crop hygiene, destroying severely affected plants, regular monitoring to reduce the larval caseload while other means of control interventions will be aggressively explored and implemented.

FAW continued spreading throughout maize producing districts in Uganda and by end of June it had reached Moyo, Kotido, Karamoja, and other districts in northeastern part of the country. Control operations were carried out by affected farmers with technical and material support (Cypermethrin and Profensos mix and sprayers) from MoA/PPD/Uganda. The pest was reported causing a localized total crop loss in some places where replanting was necessitated (DLCO-EA, CPD/Uganda). MoA/Uganda estimates a potential annual loss of some 450,000 MT of maize to a potentially established and unabated FAW outbreaks. GoU developed an action plan with a budget of USD 1 million before the pest migrated to that several dozen districts and it is expected to have revised the action plan after the pest continued affecting many more districts (MoA/Uganda).

Rwanda has developed an action plan for USD 700,000 with USD 200,000 from its own and the rest soliciting from partners. It has also mobilized its military force to control FAW caterpillars through mechanical means.

Burundi requested an emergency technical assistance from FAO and FAO is considering a TCP project to assist with FAW issues (FAO-SFE)

Tanzania has developed an action plan to carry out surveillance and monitoring during the coming seasons and is on the lookout.


AAW: AAW outbreaks will likely occur in northern and Rift Valley regions of Ethiopia during the forecast period (DLCO-EA, IRLCO-CSA).

FAW: FAW will continue spreading northward affecting crops in other parts of Ethiopia and perhaps reach southern Eritrea during the forecast period. With the Intertropical Front moving northward during the coming months, it is likely that the pest will continue its northward trajectory and threaten crops in many countries, north of its current invasion belt in South Sudan, northern Ethiopia, and perhaps appear in central west Africa and south of the Sahel. In the southern region, FAW outbreaks are likely to continue, especially on irrigated cereal crops. Countries in the IRLCO-CSA region are urged to install pheromone traps that the organization issued last month to monitor the FAW moths.


This forecast comes from and uses material provided by DLCO-EA, IRLCO-CSA and OFDA/AELGA. It was originally issued by USAID’s Emergency Transboundary Outbreak Pest (ETOP) programme and is summarised here by the Armyworm Network (@spodoptera007) hosted by Lancaster University.

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