Armyworm alert issued after pest spreads wings

An alert has been issued on the invasion of armyworms.

The Agriculture ministry said the pest is in Baringo, Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Kericho, Nakuru, Narok, Nandi, Siaya and Uasin Gishu.

The worm is in the larvae stage, which is the most destructive as they feed almost continuously.

READ: Ministry forms team to address Armyworm problem

Adult moths are mostly active at night, mating in the evening.

According to the ministry, when maize is attacked it can lead to 100 per cent crop loss.

Approximate 11,000 hectares of maize has been infested, which will lead to a food shortage to compound the drought.

The government is urging farmers to mount a pheromone trap per hectare for early detection of the armyworms.

They should also look out for the signs and symptoms of the pest one week after crops have germinated.

READ: Destructive army worms invade farms

They have also been advised to practice deep ploughing, which exposes the pupae to predators and heat from the sun.

They should plant crops with hard husks, which provide a barrier against the pests and to use their hands to squash caterpillars or collect and drown them in hot water on small-scale farms.

In Kisii County, farmers are a worried lot following armyworm and stalk borer invasions.

The Agriculture and Training Institute in the county is in danger of losing their maize crop.

Mr Mulei Mutiso, the county deputy agricultural director for crops, said the worm has so far been seen in Bonchari, Bomachoge Chache, Kitutu Chache North, Nyaribari Masaba, Bonchari and Nyaribari Chache.

He said most farmers discovered the pests too late when they had damaged their crops beyond salvage.

Farmer Morris Marube said he found the pests two weeks ago when the media aired news on the infestation in Trans Nzoia.

He said he has not used any insecticide as he does not have accurate information about the armyworms and lack of money.

County agriculture executive Vincent Sagwe said the armyworms are in the larvae stage, and have infested approximately 10 per cent of farms.


He said plans to secure pesticides for farmers are underway.

He said the county has appealed for support from the national government for pesticides.

“This is an emergency. The department has identified pesticide vendors as we wait for the national government’s response,” Mr Sagwe said.

Mr Sagwe said they have sent out extension officers to train farmers on how to use the pesticides.

Reports by Agewa Magut, Elgar Machuka and Agrrey Omboki


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