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African Bollworm

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ALERT ON AFRICAN BOLLWORM INFESTATION (handout)

Scientific name: Helicoverpa armigera
Common names:
(African bollworm, Fruit worm, Pod borer, Corn earworm, Tomato grub, Tobacco budworm)
[pic]
(Note yellowish line on either side of body) LARVAL STAGE-MOST DESTRUCTIVE

It damages a wide variety of food, fiber, oilseed, fodder and horticultural crops. The habit of feeding inside the fruiting parts of the plant during most of its development makes bollworms less vulnerable to insecticides. The African bollworm has a strong ability to develop resistance to insecticides.

Damage
Caterpillars of the African bollworm feed on leaves, buds, growing points, flowers and fruit. Feeding on flowers and fruit causes the main damage. Flower feeding can prevent fruit formation.
Evidence of damage in maize includes large circular holes on leaves and cobs. The larva which is the destructive phase has a characteristic yellowish line on the side of the body.

Host range
The African bollworm has been reported on 35 crops and 25 wild host plants in Eastern and Southern Africa. The severity of the damage varies between crops, regions and locations, and between seasons. In Eastern Africa, attacked crops include cotton, French beans, dry beans, okra, peas, legumes, maize, sorghum, sunflower, tobacco and tomato, cucurbits, wheat, weeds like amaranthus and cleome.

CONTROL OPTIONS
1: CULTURAL PRACTICES
1A: MONITORING
Early detection of eggs or young caterpillars by regular scouting of the crop before they bore into the fruits or pods is very important.

1B: SANITATION (CLEAN CULTIVATION) ➢ Remove and destroy plant residues immediately after harvesting. ➢ Plough the soil after harvesting. This exposes pupae, which may then be killed by natural enemies or through desiccation by the sun. ➢ Weeding. Destruction of weeds that may harbor caterpillars is important to prevent African bollworm infestation.

2: MECHANICAL CONTROL
Handpick and destroy eggs and small caterpillars. However it is very important to detect small caterpillars before they enter the fruits.

3: INTERCROPPING AND TRAP CROPS
Moths of the African bollworm prefer to lay eggs on certain crops e.g. pigeon pea, chick peas, crotalaria, maize, tobacco, sorghum and sunflower especially during the flowering period. One crop can be used to shield another major crop as trap crop when planted in strips or around the field. The moths will lay eggs on trap crop instead of the main crop. A careful choice of the trap which should flower early and be sustained flowering over the main crop flowering period will ensure the maximum effectiveness of trap crops.

4: CROP ROTATION
Avoiding replacing the main crop with those susceptible to bollworm like cotton, corn, sorghum, tobacco, soybean, and tomato as a measure to help to reduce/prevent build up of bollworm populations.

5: NATURAL ENEMIES-BIOLOGICAL CONTROL
In Africa, a wide variety of natural enemies like parasitoids eggs, ants, bugs, ladybird beetles have been recorded attacking the African bollworm. Planting in adjacent crops that attract natural enemies will boost their activity.

6: BOTANICALS
Several plants are reported to be useful in the management of the African bollworm on several crops. Garlic is reported to be effective against African bollworm on cotton and maize, while pepper and marigold were effective against pests of tomatoes
Neem : There are several reports of use of neem products to control African bollworm on several crops before caterpillar enter the fruit.
Bt: Bt is widely used in Africa for control of caterpillars, including the African bollworm.

Others: Bio plants extracts from neem leaves and seeds, from hot pepper or mixtures of plant extracts such as Lantana, chilies and Tephrosia.

7: CHEMICAL SPRAY:
Farmers should be encouraged to spray with products having active ingredients like Befenithrin, Cypermethrin with chloropyriphos, Deltamethrin, Lambdacyhalothrin or Thuricide to suppress the pest levels (products in market include but are not limited to Brigade, Cyclone, Duduthrin, Decis). For optimum results, farmers should use the higher dose rate according to specifications on the product labels. However spraying is only effective early before bollworms bore into the fruits or cobs.

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