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PEST ALERT: DETECTION OF A NEW PEST CATERPILLAR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SOUTH AFRICA

02 Feb 2017

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) received several reports from farmers of an unidentified Lepidoptera pest causing damage to maize between 16 and 27 January 2017. However the pest was observed on maize by some South African producers since December 2016.

Extensive damage reported so far in South Africa is mainly on sweetcorn and on white maize planted for seed production. The pest responsible for the damage was reported from all the districts of the Limpopo Province, and in the North West Province between Swartruggens and Mahikeng as well as Lichtenburg. If this pest is indeed the FAW, it could be disastrous, particularly to maize production.

DAFF already met with role players from various industries and research organisations on 25 January 2017 to determine a plan of action. The first step of the contingency plan is to confirm the identification of the pest. Once the identity of the pest is confirmed an emergency control strategy will be implemented. We want to ensure accurate information is provided to producers regarding the type of pest, pesticide control and on farm management of the pest. The biggest danger is incorrect farm management of the pest which can lead to pesticide resistance and further production losses.

Read the full DAFF Press Release here