Wed, Jul 17, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Wasp release considered to fight fall armyworms

LIMITED IMPACT:The total affected area is far below the 20% predicted by international researchers, as only 1.22% of cornfields have been affected, officials said

By Chien Hui-ju and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Trichogramma wasp is pictured in an undated photograph provided by the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine.

Photo: CNA

A type of small wasp might be introduced to combat an influx of fall armyworms, the Council of Agriculture said on Monday.

The crop-destroying fall armyworm was first found on a Miaoli County farm last month and has since spread to other areas.

Trichogramma are important biological control agents, as they lay their eggs within the eggs of other insects.

Preliminary testing with three Trichogramma species have been successful, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) 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 (陳駿季) said.

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.

However, the total affected crop area is below the 20 percent level predicted by studies from other nations, with only 64.17 hectares, or 1.22 percent, of the total 5,279 hectares of cornfields affected, Chen 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, he said.

Chen urged farmers to be vigilant and report sightings to the bureau as soon as possible, as fall armyworms could infest other crops.

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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