New hope in Liberia pest outbreak?

New hope in Liberia pest outbreak?

04/02/2009

Findings made during a field verification and evaluation visit by an international team of scientists led by experts from FAO and the Government of Liberia suggest that the potential threats of current and future outbreaks in the ongoing Liberian caterpillar plague could be contained more easily than previously thought.

The team, which visited seven affected areas in Liberia for three days last week, established that the insects were not Armyworms, as had been reported, but larvae of another moth species. One important difference is that these insects pupate, or spin their cocoons, on the ground under fallen leaves. That makes it relatively easier to dispose of the cocoons and limit further infestation.

Armyworms, on the other hand, bore 4-5 cm deep into the ground to pupate and are thus much harder to control. Emerging from the cocoon, an adult Armyworm moth can then fly 1 000 kilometers and lay more than 1 000 eggs after mating.