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Alien worm presents major threat to maize in South Africa

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Staff Writer | February 6, 2017
South Africa armyworm
Pest in Africa   From all the districts of Limpopo

A new species of armyworm could be disastrous for South Africa’s crops, especially maize, if not urgently contained.

For many South Africans maize is a staple food, accounting for 30 percent to 50 percent of low-income households in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Although an exact identification has not been made, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the species was similar in appearance to the fall armyworm.

Extensive damage reported in the country has been mainly to sweetcorn and white maize planted for seed production.

Spokesperson Bomikazi Molapo said once the department completed a full count survey, it would be in a position to determine exactly how many of the sweetcorn and white maize crops have been harmed.

“Damage was reported from all the districts of Limpopo, and in the North West Province between Swartruggens and Mahikeng as well as Lichtenburg,” she said.

Molapo said scientists from the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), together with North West University, had collected samples for identification.

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