Crop-destroying fall armyworm found on Miaoli farm

2019/06/10 20:59:40 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
fall armyworm (photo courtesy of the Miaoli County Government's Agriculture Department)

fall armyworm (photo courtesy of the Miaoli County Government's Agriculture Department)

Taipei, June 10 (CNA) A harmful species of Lepidoptera found on a farm in Miaoli County has been confirmed as the crop-destroying fall armyworm -- the first such case in Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said Monday.

The determination was made after COA and local government officials analyzed insects found on an unharvested corn field on the farm Saturday, following a report from a member of the public, Chen Hung-po (陳宏伯), an official at the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, told CNA.

Meanwhile, produce grown on the field has been destroyed and deposited in a landfill, due to concerns fall armyworms could spread, the COA said.

Earlier Monday, COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said the fall armyworm has only been found on one field in Miaoli, produce of which was used to feed animals.

No traces of the highly destructive insect have been found in neighboring Yunlin or Chiayi and Tainan areas, he noted.

In response to Huang's remarks, Chen said the incident could have been caused by the Miaoli farm not using pesticide on the affected corn field.

According to Chen, it is hard for fall armyworms to survive in Taiwan, even if they arrive on approaching southwestern wind currents from China, as most local farms use pesticide and 500 pheromone eliminators have been installed across the country.

That explains why the fall armyworm and other harmful insects have not been detected on Kinmen and Matsu islands, which are closer to China, nor in other parts of the country, he said.

An appropriate use of pesticides can help farmers eliminate fall armyworms and the COA recommends four specific pesticides, including Neem oil and Bacillus thuningiensis, on its website, Chen said.

On May 13, the COA held a news conference at which it warned about the possible arrival of the fall armyworm in Taiwan.

If the insect arrives in large numbers, sweet corn and rice fields on Taiwan proper and sorhuum and wheat fields in Kinmen are vulnerable, and could potentially result in an annual loss of up to NT$3.5 billion (US$111.46 million), according to the COA.

Since 2016, the fall armyworm has spread from America to Africa, and from Africa to Asia, including Southeast Asia and India in 2017-2018 and China in 2019.

According to Chiang Ming-yao (江明耀), a researcher at the COA's Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, the latest information shows that 18 provinces in China, including Hainan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, have already reported economic losses as a result of the spread of the fall armyworm.

(By Flor Wang and Yang Shu-min)
Enditem/AW


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