Did You Know Armyworms Could Invade European Crops?

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Fall armyworms* have moved from their natural habitats in the Americas to invade crops in Africa, Asia and Australia. They have recently been detected in Cyprus and the Canary Islands [1].

Once established, armyworms are difficult to control and can devastate cropsThey have veracious appetites, feeding on over 350 different plant species [2]. Each female lays up to 2000 eggs and adult moths can fly up to 480 km [3]. It is therefore essential to act decisively as soon as they arrive in a new location. 

EU member states have specific requirements to eradicate invasive alien species [4]. Removal of initial invasions of alien insects tends to rely on the availability and use of insecticides. If initial eradication fails, the damage they cause once established has already been demonstrated in Africa and Asia [5]. 


*Spodoptera frugiperda is called "armyworm" because, at the larval stage, they gather in huge numbers "armies", which can damage large areas of crops

[1] Pest survey card on Spodoptera frugiperda (EFSA)

[2] Host plants of Spodoptera frugiperda in the Americas (Sabinet)
[3] Fall Armyworm (SANBI)
[4] Regulation on the prevention & management of the introduction & spread of invasive alien species (EU)
[5] Fall Armyworm: Scaling up response across the globe (FAO)