The fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), a new pest of maize in Africa: biology and first native natural enemies detected.
The fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda is a real threat to food security. It is able to totally destroy the cereal crops in a country. It can cause famine in Sub-Saharan Africa where cereals are subsistence crops. Reported in Africa in 2016, the FAW succeeded to colonize 47 countries in one year. Its migration capacities wich are of around 100 km per night can allow it have fully infest a country like Senegal (ca 200 000 km2) in less than a week. The FAW is very difficult to fight because resistant to several insecticides. Invasive species often invade a new environment without their natural enemies, which promotes their multiplication and damage to crops. To estimate the generation number per year and evaluate the impact of biological control of indigenous natural enemies on the FAW, larvae were collected in maize fields and monitored in the laboratory. The results show that the development cycle of S. frugiperda takes 25 days on average, that is to say fifteen (15) generations per year. The study confirms the presence of three species of native natural enemies, a nematode Hexamermis sp. and two Hymenopterans Chelonus sp. and Campoletis sp. detected for the first time in West Africa on FAW larvae. The overall parasitism rate is 25.8%. These native natural enemies are a very promising means of control against FAW populations. The introduction of agricultural techniques to promote the maintenance and the proliferation of the FAW auxiliaries is an alternative to the use of pesticides.