Last Updated
Thursday 18 December 2014, 14:58 pm.
African armyworm spreads across country

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the African armyworm has now covered most of the country, except for Kgalagadi District.
By Staff Writer Fri 19 Dec 2014, 11:21 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: African armyworm spreads across country








In an interview with Mmegi, public relations officer at the ministry, Moreri Moesi said in addition to Kweneng, Ngamiland and Central Districts where the worm was first found, the worm has been found in different agriculture extension offices like Sikwane, Morwa, Modipane, Bokaa, Oodi in Kgatleng District, Moshupa, Tshwaane, Letlhakane West, Pitseng, Metlobo, Mogojogojo, Mmalore and Kanngwe in Southern District; Makalamabedi, Matlapana and Tubu in North West District; Tlokweng, Pitsane and Lobatse in South East District; Gweta, Mokubilo, Matsitama, Mosolotshane, Mogorosi, Machaneng, Tuliblock, Bobonong South, Shashemooke and Mmadinare South in Central District. It is not yet known why Kgalagadi District is an exception.

Moesi said that with the discovery of the worm right across the country, teams on the ground are now stretched.However, it is not yet known how much damage has been done. "Surveillance on to the damage caused is still ongoing. But currently our main focus is on killing the worm as quickly as possible. We will find out about the damage later," he asserted.

This worm has a tendency to eat day and night and attacks crops and grazing grass in troops. The worm is green when young and has black and white stripes on its sides when it matures. It measures approximately five centimetres in length.  It has a characteristic inverted 'V' shape on it's head and is said to belong to a family of moths.Meanwhile, Moesi advised farmers to weed their fields since the worms seem to be attracted to fields with lots of grass or weeds.

Farmers can also mitigate by digging 30 centimetre deep trenches and weed around the field to slow down the invasion. He pointed that the worm is said to be common after a dry period. The worm is a moth and does not in anyway relate with butterflies that were recently seen across the country.

In addition communication specialist at the ministry, Geoffrey Pheko has advised that the chemical used to control the worm can only be administered by plant protection staff, and not farmers. The last time the country experienced the outbreak of the worm was in 1991 in the Tutume sub-district. Currently, the worm has been reported in some neighbouring countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe where it is reported to have nearly wiped out farms, leaving the countries in fear of food crisis in the future.



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