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Pesticide-spraying to be introduced to combat fall armyworms

2019/06/17 21:35:25

Photo courtesy of the COA

Taipei, June 17 (CNA) A second phase of measures to prevent the spread of fall armyworm, a crop-devouring pest, will be launched with the introduction of compulsory insecticide spraying in all areas where any form of the pest is sighted, the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) announced Monday.

From June 14-17, 21 sightings of fall armyworm moths were reported in the offshore islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu, as well as Hsinchu, Miaoli, Chiayi, Pingtung and Hualien counties on Taiwan proper, while eggs and pupae have also been found, the COA task force responsible for fall armyworm control said at a press conference.

There have been a total of 68 sighting of the larval form of the crop-eating insect nationwide since the first sighting was confirmed in a corn field in Miaoli County on June 10. Crops were uprooted and buried in 28 farms, according to the task force.

Currently, only Nantou County and Kaohsiung, as well as Green Island and Orchid Island, have not reported sightings, COA data shows.

As the time to eliminate first-generation larvae is coming to an end and additional sightings have been reported, the task force unveiled the second phase of its strategy to prevent the second-generation of the invasive insect pest from spreading by destroying eggs, pupae and moths with pesticide.

The new round of pest control will begin on Tuesday, the COA said.

In an effort to combat the pest, officials are seeking to educate farmers as to the appearance of the eggs, larvae, pupae and moths and asking them to immediately report any sightings to the authorities.

Meanwhile, 500 pheremone traps -- chemical substances produced by an animal that affects the behavior of others of its species -- have been deployed nationwide.

The life cycle of fall armyworms, which get their name from the way they advance with military precision to destroy the leaves and stems of plants, lasts about 30 days and it goes through four different stages: egg, larva, pupa and moths.

Fall armyworm eggs measure about 0.4 millimeter in diameter and 0.3mm in height, while the pupa is reddish brown in color, and measures 14-18mm in length and about 4.5mm in width.

The moth has a wingspan of 32mm. In the male moth, the forewing is generally gray and brown, with triangular white spots at the tip and near the center of the wing.

The forewings of females are less distinctly marked, ranging from a uniform grayish brown to a fine mottling of gray and brown. The hind wings are iridescent silver-white with a narrow dark border in both sexes.

A reward of NT$10,000 will be given to anyone who makes a confirmed report of the pest between June 8-21, the COA announced on Friday.

(By Yang Su-min and Evelyn Kao)
Enditem/AW