Fall Armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae): A recent threat and future management strategy in Nepal

S. Gahatraj1*, S. Tiwari1,2, S. Sharma3, L. Kafle4

1Faculty of Agriculture, Agriculture and Forestry University, Rampur-44209, Chitwan, Nepal
2Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University, P.O.Box 85084, Lincoln-7647, New Zealand
3Entomology Division, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Khumaltar-44700, Nepal
4National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, Shuefu Road, Neipu, Pingtung 912, Taiwan

(Manuscript received 31 March 2020; accepted for publication 10 May 2020)

Abstract. Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is an invasive pest of maize including other cultivated crops such as rice, wheat, and many other vegetables. This invasive species was initially noticed in North-America and later reported in many countries of Africa in early 2016. In South Asia, this has been reported for the first time in India followed by Srilanka in 2018 and Bangladesh, China, Taiwan and Nepal in 2019. It is polyphagous in nature and damage has been reported in more than 80 plant species. The loss has to lead up to 50-80% in maize in severe situation. FAW is a distant flyer and can fly more than 100 km in a night and spread well in crop fields. As this pest is already invasive in many states of India and the likelihood of entry and spreading in Nepal is higher because of the open border between the countries and flexible government quarantine policy. The great socio-economic loss has been forecasted once this pest has received invasive status in Nepal. Recently, this crop has been confirmed by Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) in Gaidakot area of Nawalpur district, Nepal and has been noticed in almost all parts of Nepal such as Sidhuli, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Tanahun and Rupendehi districts. However, this information has not been endorsed by Nepal Plant Protection Office (NPPO), an official invasive species endorsing organization in Nepal. This species is spreading rapidly in maize growing areas and significant losses have been reported in maize crop by the farmers. The regular scouting, surveillance, and monitoring can be suggested to evaluate the pest status in the crop field. Habitat manipulation with the deployment of deterring crops ‘push’ such as desmodium (Desmodium uncinatum) and pest-attracting crop ‘pull’ such as Napier (Pennisetum purpureum) and Sudan grass (Sorghum vulgare sudanense) is suggested in a ‘push-pull strategy’, the most popular and successful method of FAW management in the maize field. Field sanitation, and conserving pest’s natural enemies are other integrated approaches. However, in a commercial maize field, a group of ‘soft’ and selective chemicals have been suggested for immediate control of this pest. This review compiled the recent informations available on FAW and is useful for farmers, researchers and policy makers to draw a roadmap for the future FAW management in Nepal.