Egg Parasitoid in Africa to Fight Fall Armyworm

— Written By

CABI | 4/1/2019 | Via ScienceDaily

A group of scientists have confirmed the first report of an egg parasitoid Telenomus remus in Africa which could prove an important biological weapon in the fight against the devastating fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) that threatens the food security of more than 200 million people.

Dr Marc Kenis, Head of Risk Analysis and Invasion Ecology at the CABI Centre in Switzerland, led an international team of researchers from seven countries, who suggest Telenomus remusprovides a ‘great opportunity for the rapid deployment of a biological control agent’ for fall armyworm in Africa.
The scientists, who confirmed the presence of Telenomus remusin Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Niger and South Africa using DNA analysis and morphological observations conducted at CABI’s Egham laboratories and the Natural History Museum London, say the species could be a vital ‘tool’ within an Integrated Pest Management strategy for fall armyworm which — as part of preliminary estimates in 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries — has the ability to cause yield losses of up to 20.6 million tonnes per annum.
The team report in a new paper published in Insects that surveys should now be carried out throughout Africa to assess the present distribution and impact of Telenomus remus on the continent.
They go on to suggest that augmentative biological control options using the parasitoid should be considered and call for classical biological control which should focus on the importation of larval parasitoids from the Americas.
Dr Kenis said, “The frequent application of broad-spectrum insecticides is not only unsustainable in the long-run, but also increases production costs, has biodiversity and environmental impacts, and poses health risks to the growers and consumers. Biological controls can offer an economically and environmentally safer alternative to synthetic insecticides that are currently being used for management of the fall armyworm.