There are widespread media reports that the armyworm is threatening this season's maize production in many maize growing regions of Zimbabwe. The government has disbursed insecticides to some areas to prevent widespread crop failure. The same pest has already caused a national crisis in Zambia. We have received requests from emerging farmers asking for information on how to handle the armyworms in their maize. Instead of responding individually we thought it would be helpful to share information broadly here to help reduce major crop losses from our country's most important food crop.
What is the Fall Armyworm (FAW)?
The armyworm is a destructive crop pest. The moth hatches a caterpillar which feeds on cereals such as maize. The caterpillars are about 3-4 cm long and have a velvety black shiny head with an inverted V-shaped mark on the head and white stripes along their sides and the back. They are called armyworms because they march in large numbers from the grass onto crops and can destroy entire fields of cereal crops such as maize, sorghum, and millet.
The other English name for the armyworm is the black worm.The local language names for the armyworm are imhogoyi or mhundururu.