Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is a polyphagous insect that feeds mainly on maize and more than 80 other crops, including wheat, sorghum, millet, sugarcane, vegetable crops and cotton. FAW is a global threat to food security, impacting food production and the rural livelihoods of millions. Based on FAO estimates from 12 African countries, up to 17.7 million tonnes of maize could be lost annually due to FAW, equivalent to USD 2.5 - 6.2 billion, and enough to feed tens of millions of people.
FAW is a transboundary pest able to fly over 100 km in a single night. Its high reproductive rate, natural spread capacity and the new opportunities presented by international trade increase its potential to spread rapidly worldwide with devastating consequences on plant health and food security. Once established in a new territory, FAW is impossible to eradicate and reducing its spread is now a global challenge.
Native to Americas, FAW is established in Africa, the Near East, Asia, and the Pacific. The pest was reported through morphological identification in South East Asia in 2008, and from Asia and East Africa between 2013 and 2016. Molecular diagnostic of FAW from Central and Western Africa was officially reported in early 2016, while molecular diagnostics also confirmed its presence in Asia as early as 2016. Between 2016 and 2018, FAW was rapidly confirmed in all sub-Saharan Africa, except Lesotho. Between 2018 and 2019, molecular diagnostics also confirmed FAW in Asia and the Near East.
As of now, the pest is affecting over 70 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Japan; as well as, Sudan, Yemen, and Egypt. In the first half of 2020, FAW was officially reported in Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. It has been recently reported also in Israel and Jordan.