Fall Army Worm

Fall armyworm

Fall armyworm Solutions

Fall armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda, is most devastating in maize crops and grasses, but can also feed on alfalfa, bean, peanut, potato, sweet potato, turnip, spinach, tomato, cabbage, cucumber, cotton, tobacco, all grain crops, and clover.

The Problem


Threatening over 80 staple crops, this pest’s name is derived from its feeding habits. The moth consumes everything in an area, and as soon as the food supply is exhausted, the entire “army” moves on to the next available food source. Native to the Americas, the fall armyworm is spreading rapidly across Africa and is expected to destroy crops and farmers’ livelihoods as far as Asia and the Mediterranean. Attacks on maize during the late whorl stage could reduce yield by 5 to 20 percent.

Pest characteristics

  • Unlike the regular armyworm, FAW feeds during the day and migrates to a new location overnight.
  • The insect overwinters as pupae in one location and appears as egglaying moths elsewhere.
  • Larvae are difficult to detect, resistant to insecticides, destroying
    crops both under- and over-ground.

Fall armyworm caterpillars burrow in the leaves of maize, making detection difficult before too late.

Russell IPM has developed a range of compatible products that can be used as part of an IPM strategy to combat the manifestation of FAW.

Monitoring: Identifying the most effective pheromone formulation for monitoring the African species of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda

Fall armyworm is an aggressive pest that has obliterated maize fields in Zambia and Malawi. Mature fruits are most vulnerable to infestation and damage, which leads to yield losses of up to 20% . The effective monitoring of Fall armyworm’s movement is a pivotal first step in the management of this pest. Early detection of Fall armyworm presence can be especially challenging, since the caterpillars devour whole fields of crops overnight, migrating to a new food source in the early morning hours. The first indication of a problem should be identifying the presence of the pest population, allowing for a rapid and effective response to prevent yield loss.

At the beginning of 2017, as the demand for a solution to Fall armyworm damage in Southern Africa grew, Russell IPM conducted extensive field trials in the region. Several formulation of its pheromone lure with different pheromone concentrations of the African species were tested in local crops. Russell IPM’s four-component lure showed the best results in trap catch counts for the purpose of monitoring Fall armyworm populations. (See Figure below).


Recharge logoREchargeRecharge – a natural microbial soil-booster

Russell IPM has developed a range of compatible products that can be used as part of an IPM strategy to combat the manifestation of FAW.

Recharge improves soil health, shifting the focus of any IPM program from the top to the bottom, from outside to inside.

Recharge can greatly enhance the effectiveness of integrated pest management programmes and is compatible with many biorational control programmes. It is particularly successful when utilised in combination with biopesticides, including Antario and Biotrine from Russell IPM.

The rich combination of microbes helps plants utilise their own immune systems to fight off diseases and pests. It targets pupae in the soil, preventing them from developing and emerging as caterpillars.

Recharge is most effective as a preventative measure and should be applied shortly after the plants have surfaced above ground. Additional pesticides should not be applied during that stage.

Fytomax PM

Fytomax PM is a biopesticide, based upon the combination of the powerful extract of neem seed oil, Azadirachtin, and plant extracts that work in synergy to repel insects and prevent feeding. Following application, Fytomax PM will kill larvae and act as an anti-feedant and insect growth regulator, to control larvae, pupae and adult insect pests of Fall armyworm.

Fytomax PM works by contact and systemic modes of action. It is also an ovipositional deterrent. It controls target pests by contact or by ingestion.
Fytomax PM is an appetite suppressant, thus slowing down and eventually stopping existing FAW damage. Having multiple modes of action, Fytomax PM works very well when combined with Biotrine.


Biotrine’s synergistic formula works to control insect pests through its translaminar action that penetrates the leaf surface and reaches pests within the leaf layer.

The larvacide is most potent against the 1st and 2nd larval instars of Fall armyworm, whilst also helping to control adult moths.

Biotrine works most effectively when used as part of an integrated pest management programme. Russell IPM recommends that Biotrine be used in conjunction with the Recharge soil treatment powder to tackle soil dwelling pupae. Antario can be added to protect against the early stages of infestation.


Antario works by producing an endotoxin inside the insect larvae, quickly stopping the insect from feeding and then eliminating it. It is effective for the control of larvae of Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda.

Antario is highly efficient in controlling leaf miners and has been proven to be a successful and environmentally safe alternative to chemical treatments that leave residues on fresh produce. The formulation is larvacidal, killing the insects before they reach adulthood and are able to reproduce. Antario works to kill the insect during feeding, helping to minimise crop damage and improve produce quality.

Bio-rational Management of Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugipeda) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) In Tanzania. 2017

By Chidege Maneno(Plant Entomologist).

Read further on how results from trials in Tanzania show that final crop yield more than doubled when using a Russell IPM biorational management programme in comparison to chemical insecticides. The trial covers three regions: Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Arusha using Recharge, Biotrine and Antario, and show particularly exceptional results in Morogoro.