The exotic fall armyworm is a wake-up call | The Agricultural Departments should value biological control

Although biodiversity has been widely discussed, it is not familiar to everyone. When it comes to invasive species, some people don’t think it has too many relations with themselves. But this year, the invasion of fall armyworm (FAW) is expected to cause great economic damage to farmers, sounding the alarm for us. 


Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is originated from America and can damage a wide variety of crops, including maize, sorghum, rice, wheat, and sugarcane, which threatens food security, trade, and farmers’ well-being.


The problem of FAW has aroused much more attention recently.


FAW has conquered Africa before invading into Asia. Early in the summer of 2018, Dr. Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF), has warned, “Many Asian countries are facing the challenge brought out by fall armyworm, especially China. We should pay attention to the migratory insect”.


FAW invades China as he expected. Its presence has been confirmed in China in January 2019. 


In terms of pest control, the main measures adopted in China are chemical preventions. There are no registered pesticides of FAW control, and most of them are on trial. Nature-based mechanism of pest control has been ignored.


Human should revere biodiversity, the core of pest control, as a gift from nature.


A large number of birds are dislodged from farmlands, or captured by the nets every year; numerous people regard wild birds and frogs as a delicacy; unnecessary use of herbicides has been a process in urban landscaping.  


What I want to say is that we should find the long-term mechanism and nature-based solutions, rather than ill-considered policies.


It is easy for epidemic plant and insect diseases to spread in the farmlands with large-scale plantation of a single crop. And the routine practice is to increase the dosage of pesticide, thus posing threats to the ecological environment, food safety, food security, and underground water. When fighting against FAW, we should bear the principle that nature itself is a dynamic but balanced mechanism in mind.


Some birds may feed on FAW. Therefore, farmers should not scare any bird in farmland away. Two swallows, for instance, bring about 450 insects to their babies each day, and a brood of fledglings would eat up 9000 insects in 20 days.


To this end, the Ministry of Agriculture should take bird protection into consideration. 

In the video of working arrangement meeting of Ministry of Agriculture in spring 2019, held on February 13, the authority didn’t say anything about bird conservation. It is essential for everyone to realize the truth that unsustainable chemical control will lead us nowhere.


The loss of insect biological diversity is another determinant of serious pest disease. How about controlling FAW by other insects? It is showed that some insects, such as green lacewings and flower bugs, feed on FAW egg, larvae, and other pests.


The excessive adoption of chemical control results in the loss of insect biodiversity. Over the past decade, 41% of global insect species are in decline due to intensified agriculture. According to the latest research published on Biological Conservation, it only takes several decades for all the insects to go extinction at the current rate.


Moreover, agricultural biodiversity functions as one of the most important factors in crop disease control. Relevant departments may mobilize experts and professionals in the field of Phytopathology and insectology.


This year, FAW invades China, and there will be other exotic species into China. The only nature-based solution meets the demand for sustainable development and ecological civilization.


Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth, which makes up the intricate life network. Earth is in the Sixth Mass Extinction, so we have a duty to protect biodiversity. CBCGDF has been dedicated to biodiversity conservation and calling on to attach importance to it. We still have a long way to mainstream biodiversity conservation. 


Human only has one Earth. The traditional thinking mode developed in the era of industrial civilization stresses short-term solutions, but we must put forward with systematic and sustainable approaches in accordance with the spirit of ecological civilization.


Biodiversity conservation and healthy ecological environment are the best and most effective way to tackle insect attack.

(Photo source: Internet)

(Photo credit: FAO)

(Photo source: Internet)

(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)

(Photo credit: CBCGDF)

(Photo credit: Kai Pflug)

Original Chinese article:

By / Wang Yanqing




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