Fall armyworm

CABI scientists are working in partnership with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) to find an effective biological control, as part of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan to fight the devastating fall armyworm.

The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is a maize (predominately but also affects more than 80 other crops) pest of global concern having spread from the Americas to Africa and Asia. Is was first detected in Bangladesh in November 2018.

Emergency responses to the fall armyworm have centred on chemical pesticides which are deemed unsustainable in the long-run and raise concerns around the potential damage to human health, biodiversity and the environment.

In an effort to validate, promote and deploy a more sustainable biological control as part of an IPM package, the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) has also been working with CABI to find a natural enemy for fall armyworm management.

The mass production of the host egg parasitoid Corcyra cephalonica has started in the Central Bio-control Laboratory of Ispahani Agro Limited in collaboration with BARI. This is as well as the mass production and field efficacy tests of the larval parasitoid Bracon hebetor which are on-going in the farmers’ fields.

Steps have also been taken to import the egg parasitoids Telenomus remus and Trichogramma pretiosum from India with CABI’s assistance. After their introduction, it is anticipated that they will be used at the farm level as a community approach in collaboration with Ispahani Agro Limited.

Dr Malvika Chaudhary, Regional Coordinator for Plantwise in Asia and who was guest of honour at a day-long workshop on fall armyworm management in Gazipur, Bangladesh, said, “A multi-pronged approach to address the screening and establishment of biocontrol agents for fall armyworm management are currently taking place to try and integrate proven low-risk and locally-adaptable low-cost technological options within an overall IPM strategy.

“The major outcome of our research is to foster the phylogenetic relationship of the Bangladeshi fall armyworm with other isolates from different countries so that we can the community-based production of effective biocontrol agents for the pest.”

FAW bangladesh

Dr Malvika Chaudhary (second left) shares her expertise on the fall armyworm.

BARI Director (Support & Services) Mr Habibur Rahman Sheikh inaugurated the workshop as chief guest and heard from Dr Chaudhary in more detail about CABI’s initiatives in Asia for fall armyworm management – emphasizing research on biological control.

More than 80 participants from BARI, the Bangladesh Rise Research Institute (BRRI), the Department of Agriculture & Extension (DAE), Agricultural University and Non-Governmental Organizations took part in the event along with farmers. A trip to the research field and IPM laboratory was also undertaken as well as an open discussion following the technical session of the workshop.

The partners agreed that a series of regional exchange visits, for scientists to learn more about classical biological control, would be a good way forward in the ongoing fight against the fall armyworm.

Additional information

Find out more about the fall armyworm from the CABI Fall Armyworm Portal.