By Anna Ingwafa
Communal farmers in the Oshana Region are worried about an armyworm outbreak that could destroy crops and agricultural extension officers at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry have been alerted.
Armyworms are insect larvae – particularly caterpillars of moths or butterflies – that travel in large numbers destroying the vegetation and crops they feed on.
The outbreak is more pronounced at Omeege village and communal settlements around Ongwediva, Onelago B, Ekolyanaambo, Okaku, Ekamba and Olulongo.
Yaha Nakaande, an agricultural extension officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in Ongwediva confirmed the threat posed by these creepy crawlies to millet farmers. Another farmer from Eputa in Ondangwa has reported an incident whereby these worms invaded his millet crop.
She said the ministry is fully aware of these worms that are now moving en masse towards the mahangu fields in the area around Ongwediva. The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry has deployed spraying teams to the area to contain the pests and save the crop from further destruction.
According to Nakaande, armyworms target millet more than any other crop and when they attack, the result could be very devastating.
“Once armyworms have invaded a crop field application of recommended insecticides called Sumithion must be used,” explained Nakaande.
According to the official, early signs of an infestation include leaves with ragged margins that have been chewed away. The worms eat the leaves of small grains and grasses and they only chew the leaf margins or completely strip corn plants.
The corn may recover if it has not been damaged past the growing point but entire fields can be lost if the infestation is severe and many plants have damage below the growing point. Damage is usually most severe in untilled fields where there are grasses or other crops nearby.
Armyworm infestations tend to be focussed around waterways, areas of lush growth or areas with lodged plants.??????’??