Chinese Farmers Gear Up for Armyworm as Government Says Situation is Severe

June 26, 2019 Updated: June 26, 2019

BEIJING —China’s agriculture ministry said on June 26 it had now found fall armyworm in 19 provinces, across 5 million mu or about 333,000 hectares of crops.

The situation around the prevention and control of the pest remained severe, the ministry added.

Beijing has previously said the pest, which can infest and damage hundreds of hectares of crops overnight, was a serious threat to China’s food security.

China has recommended 25 pesticides for emergency use against the armyworm, part of its efforts to prevent the spread of the destructive pest.

“We haven’t found armyworms in our fields yet but have started spraying pesticide on the crops today to prevent against their invading,” said Song Quanyong, who grows more than 200 mu of corn in China’s central province of Henan.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a foreign agriculture report on April 30 explaining that this crop-eating pest was first detected in China in late January, entering from nearby Burma. It does not have natural predators in China.

The fall armyworm reached some parts of Henan Province in early May. Citing information from the National Agricultural Technology Extension Service Center, an agency under China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, state-run newspaper Beijing News reported that the FAW has invaded 11 provinces of southern China by May 8, which are Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Guangdong, Hunan, Hainan, Fujian, Zhejiang, Hubei, Sichuan, and Jiangxi.

Beijing News said that 230 counties and 52 cities from these provinces have reported that their cornfields have been damaged by armyworm. The larvae can eat through all the leaves and grains on a crop field overnight, then move to another one quickly, farms have reported.

An armyworm moth can fly 300 miles (500 kilometers) during its lifetime, and lay 1,000 to 1,500 eggs in total. The eggs can hatch into larvae within a few days.

The fall armyworm is native to the Americas, and in its larval stage, can eat through and cause damage to crops such as corn, rice, wheat, sorghum, barley, sugarcane, cotton, soybeans, and peanuts.

The pest was expected to reach China’s northeastern corn region in June or July, according to an expert with a government think tank.

There is currently no large-scale solution to get rid of the pest.

By Dominique Patton. Epoch Times reporter Nicole Hao contributed to this report.