Combining insect pathogenic fungi and a pheromone trap for sustainable management of the fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).
Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is a key invasive pest of maize and other crops in Africa. Entomopathogenic fungi play an important role in regulating the immature stages of this invasive pest as opposed to synthetic pesticides that are hazardous to human, environment and biodiversity. To tackle the adult stage of the pest (the moth) and to improve on the application strategy of the fungal-based biopesticides, this study evaluated the effect of various entomopathogenic fungi isolates on S. frugiperda moths. Twenty-two isolates (16 Metarhizium anisopliae and 6 Beauveria bassiana) were screened in the laboratory to assess their pathogenicity and virulence against S. frugiperda moths. The compatibility of the most pathogenic isolates with S. frugiperda pheromone FALLTRACT lure, the horizontal transmission of the inoculum among S. frugiperda moths, and the effect on oviposition were also determined under laboratory conditions. All 22 fungal isolates screened were pathogenic to the moths, but the mortality varied significantly among the isolates (P < 0.0001) seven days post-treatment. Beauveria bassiana ICIPE 621 and M. anisopliae ICIPE 7 outperformed all the other isolates by causing 100% mortality of the moths with the lowest LT50 values of 3.6 ± 0.1 and 3.9 ± 0.0 days, respectively. Both isolates were also found compatible with FALLTRACT lure, as the lure had no effect on the conidial germination in the laboratory. Male and female moths were able to horizontally transmit conidia of both fungal isolates to untreated moths, causing high mortality of S. frugiperda in 'donor' and 'recipient' groups. In addition, the oviposition, hatchability of eggs and longevity of larvae were significantly affected on the fungal infected females. Although single moths still retained high conidial numbers 72 h post-inoculation, the number of conidia decreased with time. These results suggest that ICIPE 7 and ICIPE 621 could be used in combination with S. frugiperda pheromone in an autodissemination approach to suppress S. frugiperda population.