First report of occurrence of fall armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda in sugarcane from Tamil Nadu, India.
The first occurrence of the exotic fall armyworm (FAW) Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in sugarcane from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu, India, is reported in this communication. The pest was observed in a few farms in the sugarcane belts of M/s Sakthi Sugars Ltd., Modakurichi, Erode district, and M/s E.I.D. Parry (India) Ltd., Pugalur, Karur district, Tamil Nadu, India, in November 2018. In both places, young crop (2.5-4.0 months age) of the popular variety Co 86032 was attacked with incidence levels ranging 1.85-30.86% in the three affected farms. Leaves of infested plants showed skeletonization, irregular holes or windows on the lamina and margin feeding symptoms in both mother shoots and tillers. In some plants, the central shoot was nibbled, apparently by grown-up larvae, and in many plants the spindle was sheared. Infested shoots and tillers, however, did not show meristem damage. In severely affected plants, mature larvae, visible or hidden in the whorl, amidst large quantities of fresh faecal pellets were observed; patches of dry grass were seen on older outer leaves. Curative chemical control adopted in the affected farms appeared to have controlled the pest with no subsequent recurrence. An interim strategy to monitor and manage FAW in sugarcane has been outlined.