The fall armyworm is hungry, on the move and scaring farmers the world over. The crop-devouring pest has spread from the Americas to Africa and Asia, gorging on rice, corn, vegetables, cotton and more. Europe, Australia and Southeast Asia could be next. In its first three years in Africa alone, it inflicted $13.3 billion of crop losses. A recent arrival in China, the fast-moving grub may infest the country’s entire grain-producing farmland within a year.
Crops genetically engineered to express genes from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis are protected, without the need for broad-spectrum chemicals that may harm beneficial insects. Problem is, some fall armyworm strains have developed tolerance to that naturally occurring deterrent. The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has identified 21 chemical pesticides that could mitigate the caterpillar’s spread and impact. Early detection is essential as the pest can only be effectively controlled with insecticides while larvae are small ….
Read full, original article: The ‘Pocket-Sized Monster’ Terrifying Farmers the World Over