A new pest, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), in tropical Africa: its seasonal dynamics and damage in maize fields in Northern Ghana.
Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith), was first detected in Africa in 2016. Efforts at controlling it have been challenged by the many unknowns about this invasive insect. The population dynamics of FAW moths and the damage caused by the larvae were studied in maize fields over two successive seasons in northern Ghana. Pheromone traps were deployed in sole maize fields located in Northern (NR), Upper East (UER) and Upper West (UWR) regions to assess male moth population over time. Data on damage to maize by the larvae as well as climatic variables were also recorded. A total of 2601 FAW moths were captured over the two seasons from the three regions. In general, catches increased steadily from time of emergence (i.e., 12.2±1.4 and 14.4±2.6 moths in July 2017 and 2018, respectively) and peaked when the plants were growing into the reproductive stage (i.e., 13.9±2.2 and 56.0±14.9 moths in August 2017 and 2018, respectively); afterwards catches declined significantly. There were no significant differences between regions in both years for mean their moth catches. Damage to maize was significantly higher in 2017 (4.8±0.4) than in 2018 (2.4±0.3) (P=0.005). This variable correlated positively with FAW larval abundance. Rainfall was the only climatic variable that influenced moth abundance significantly and positively in all three regions in both years; except for 2018 in UER. Thus, management of FAW in northern Ghana and locations with similar agro-ecologies must be from emergence to the tasselling stage, as well as periods of increased precipitation.