Armyworm infests paddy in Trongsa

Outbreak also reported in Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Lhuentse and Gasa 

Pest: After the first infestation of armyworm in 2013, villagers and agriculture extension agents (AEA) in Trongsa are again battling another outbreak, as it crawls from Nubi and Tangsibi in the north to Langthel and Drakteng in the south.

The dzongkhag agriculture officer (DAO), Karma Tshewang, said that, save for Korphu gewog, the rest of the gewogs have all reported an outbreak of armyworm in paddy and maize fields.

The DAO, however, said that the infestation wasn’t as bad as 2013, when “everything” was lost to armyworms. “This year we were able to bring it under control,” Karma Tshewang said.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry has also reported similar outbreaks in Thimphu, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Lhuentse and Gasa.

“With weather conditions becoming more favourable for pest outbreaks, extension officials are instructed to monitor the fields to assist farmers with timely control measures,” an advisory on the agriculture ministry’s website stated.

According to the agriculture ministry, the dark-greenish larvae of a moth with stripes of black, brown and yellow measuring an inch long is a migrant species called polyphages.  It belongs to an insect family Noctuidae.

Nibbling around leaf larvae of first generation causes the greatest harm damaging inflorescences and ears of paddy or maize during the growth stage.

Adult moth flight of the overwintered generation occurs from end of May until June.  The rest of the moth flight occurs either by first or second weeks of August and subsequently in September aand October.

Armyworm populate in plains, such as wheat grass fallows, meadows by rivers, lakes, or chicken millet and reed.

This year the infestation in Trongsa was first reported on May 8 in upper Nubi in the paddy fields of some 60 households.

“The damage, however, has been only negligible after timely issuance of the chemicals,” upper Nubi’s AEA, Chencho Dorji, said.

Farmers have been asked to spray dimethoid and cypermithrin to control the multiplication of the worms.

Kela tshogpa, Dawa Gyeltshen also said that the pests were under control with timely issuance of pesticides.  A villager from Kela, Penjor said that, although the chemicals couldn’t eradicate the worms, they had succeeded in controlling its spread.

“Although the worms damaged maize, fodder, paddy and chilli, the scale of damage has been minimised with repeated spray of chemicals,” Penjor said.

In lower Nubi, the worms have affected about 10 to 20 percent of paddy in Semjee and Bjee. “Incessant rain should also control its spread,” AEA Sonam Choki said.

Both Drakteng and Langthel gewogs have also put farmers on alert. “The villagers have been asked to call immediately for chemicals,” Langthel AEA, Damanti Kumari said.

She also said that while production might be slightly affected from the infestation, the plants would however recover from the damage.

By Tempa Wangdi, Langthel

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