DA allots initial P900,000 to control 'armyworms'

July 13, 2010 11:20 am 

MANILA, July 13 — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala on Monday ordered the immediate distribution of an initial P900,000-worth of knapsack sprayers and recommended insecticides in coordination with local government officials and agriculture technicians to control the spread of "armyworms" that attack farms in Batangas, Cavite and Quezon provinces.

Alcala also dircted DA Undersecretary Joel Rudinas and Assistant Secretary Dennis Araullo to monitor the infestations.

He also instructed the DA Regional Field Units in Regions IV-A (CALABARZON) and III (Central Luzon), and the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to coordinate closely with the respective provincial and municipal governments, particularly in Bataan, Cavite, Batangas, and Quezon — where the armyworm infestations were reported.

Agriculture experts were also assigned in the infested areas to provide technical information to local government units (LGUs), farmers, and the public on how to effectively control armyworms and other pests.

Wilma Cuaterno of the BPI Crop Protection Division chief, and Cecille Manzanilla, chief of the DA-4A Regional Crop Protection Center (RCPC), said armyworms are most destructive during their larval stage.

These pests may be controlled by applying recommended insecticides such as "Carbaryl" and "Pyrethroids," they said.

"The chemicals should be sprayed directly to the armyworms or to the vegetation, where the pests are visible during late afternoons when they are most active," they added.

Both experts urged the agricultural extension workers and farmers in the infested areas to follow proper procedures in the application of recommended chemicals as indicated in their labels.

"We are also urging farmers to always wear protective gears during insecticide application," they said.

Aside from the spray, other non-chemical solutions recommended by RCPC are the cutting of vegetation and digging of shallow ditches.

Armyworms are nocturnal moth larvae that travel in multitudes, destroying any kind of vegetation including grass and grain on their path. One egg mass is equivalent to 100 to 300 eggs, which turn into voracious defoliators once hatched. They are most destructive during their larval stage, which lasts 14-24 days.

The initial attack of armyworms in the first district of Batangas was reported early July. Since then, the DA thru the BPI and RCPC has been conducting monitoring and assessment activities to control further damage.

Cuaterno said the DA-BPI has been conducting a series of seminars since 2nd quarter 2009 until 1st quarter 2010 to warn and enjoin regional, provincial and municipal agriculturists, crop protection specialists and technicians, and Integrated Pest Management or Kalikasan farmer-cooperators to prepare for occurrence of pests and diseases as a result of the prolonged dry spell due to El Nino phenomenon.

Such pests include armyworms, cutworms, locusts, and field rats, and crop diseases such as tungro and bacteria leaf blight. (PNA)

FFC/LGI/mec

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