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New review on fall armyworm biology, distribution and management

A new review on the biology, distribution and management ha recently been published by @Sharanabasappa Deshmukh, @Jagdish Jaba and their collaborators. This review is long overdue as we haven’t had a comprehensive update on the biology of FAW since the Luginbill and Sparkes papers in 1928 and 1979. The new review includes an overview on the new information on strain differences, the explosive shift in distribution and new approaches to management. It is a welcome addition to the literature and for me personally highlighted the following research gaps:

  1. Distribution and ecology of the rice strain: The review makes clear that we don’t fully understand the feeding preferences of different strains and their ability to shift between host plants, nor the ecological/ biological drivers that result in a preference for corn (alhough I know that @Robert Meagher and the USDA have done some great work in this area). Reading the review this strikes me as essential information as insects which have R strain characteristics currently appear to have a preference for corn. Understanding what drove the different ecological niches in the Americas will be especially important in Asia and other countries.
  2. Are we prepared for a host shift? Given the above, it seems to me that governments and regulators should regularly be assessing for FAW occurrence in rice and smaller grasses, as well as maintaining and reviewing action plans should such a host shift occur. It would be interesting to know if any government bodies have such plans in place.
  3. We need a systems- level review and meta-analysis on pest management, especially IPM: The authors of this paper did give an overview of  current IPM practises, but a fuller meta-analysis and systems level review is warranted. For example, my personal experience in Kenya shows that planting early can result in combined crop losses from FAW and drought. I also question whether tillage is a viable option for FAW control as it causes longterm soil degradation and yield losses, especially in warmer countries where disturbing the soil has consequences on soil water retention. Reading the review also highlighted systems-level alternatives for which we currently have very little research, for example livestock grazing as an alternative to tillage, using mating disruption as an alternative to in-crop pesticide applications and the cost/benefit trade-offs of diverse crop rotations and income streams as a means of protecting against invasive species generally.


If anyone is currently working in these areas, please consider replying and updating the site with your your current and planned research.

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