Fall army worm (Spodoptera frugiperda) continues to present an incursion threat to New Zealand having been identified in New Caledonia in December last year.

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​​Fall armyworm on the move

Fall armyworm (FAW) can damage a wide variety of crops. The larvae predominantly feed on crops and pastures from the Poaceae (grass) family, in particular maize, but also sorghum, forage grasses, turf grasses, cereals and rice. Fall armyworm is known for its ability to disperse and migrate long distances, which enables it to exploit new habitats and expand its range.

A native of tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, FAW has become a worldwide pest in recent years. It was first recorded in Australia in January 2020 on two Torres Strait islands, then in Queensland (February 2020), the Northern Territory (March 2020) and Western Australia (March 2020).

FAW has the ability to devastate maize, and other crops in New Zealand, so all growers are reminded to keep an eye out for anything unusual in the way of insect pests or plant damage.

FAR and Vegetables New Zealand produced a fact sheet to aid with FAW identification last year. Click here to read it (but note the information about it’s geographic spread has not yet been updated).

The following websites also offer information about Fall armyworm.

https://www.outbreak.gov.au/

http://www.sanbi.org/animal-of-the-week/fall-armyworm/