Wasp considered to fight fall armyworms in Taiwan

According to Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture, a type of small wasp might be introduced to combat an influx of fall armyworms. These crop-destroying fall armyworms were first encountered on a Miaoli County farm last month and has since spread to other areas.

Preliminary testing with three Trichogramma species have been successful, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director-General Feng Hai-tung said, adding that if field trials are also successful, the measures would be introduced.

From June 8 to Monday, 206 fall armyworm sightings had been reported across the nation, excluding Chiayi County, where there were no sightings, council Deputy Minister Chen Junne-jih told the Taipei Times.

Of the 118 sightings of mature fall armyworm moths, the council has killed larvae or moths in 81 sightings and prescribed preventive measures for 122, while the remaining three have yet to be handled, he added. Fall armyworms have not been found during inspections of crops such as sweet potatoes, grazing grass, peanuts, wheat, sorghum or sugarcane, while rice paddies, sweet potato patches and grass fields near affected areas are also devoid of armyworm larvae, Chen said.

Crop rotation and thoroughly flooding a field after turning the soil are the best preventive measures, Chen said, adding that flooding would prevent most larvae from hatching. Eleven council-approved pesticides are still effective, although they should be cycled to prevent the armyworms developing resistance or immunity, Chen said.

The council is working to approve more pesticides, Chen said, adding that consistent updates would be posted on the council’s Web site. The council is to provide a comprehensive pest management template before embarking on the third stage of pest control management, in which farmers would be responsible for managing their own fields, he said.

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