First report of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on onion (Allium cepa L.) in south Kivu, eastern DR Congo.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J. E. Smith, 1797), has become one of the most devastating pests in the world with diverse host range. To develop effective integrated management strategies against S. frugiperda, it is crucial to know its alternative host plants. In this study, we provide the first information on the occurrence of S. frugiperda in onion crops in Africa. Monitoring was carried out during the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons in onion monoculture and in intercropping with groundnut to detect the presence and assess the incidence of S. frugiperda. The highest average incidence (2.88%) and larval density (0.79 per 9 m2) were observed in onion monoculture. The classification of the onion leaf damage rating scale indicated low S. frugiperda infestation. This suggests that future studies will need to assess this aspect which we consider to be a survival strategy to maintain its population throughout the year, which contributes to sustain the insect in the study area during times when its preferred hosts are not present. Furthermore, genetic studies are needed to provide a better explanation of the ecology of this pest and to find out which of the two existing strain infests onions or whether it is an unknown hybrid population of S. frugiperda.