The fall armyworm has been referred to as the world's number one corn-killing pest; it was first detected in Tauranga in March of 2022. Now it has already travelled south, spotted in Mohua (Golden Bay), leaving arable farmers and vegetable growers worried.
The fall armyworm can feed on more than 350 plants and has its name because the insects gather in huge masses, decimating crops. The pest is costing billions of dollars in lost production across Asia. Arable research experts have said New Zealand will not be able to get rid of it. By April this year, it became clear fall armyworm was widespread.
Industry groups have now adopted a long-term management program. Currently, 250 traps have been deployed all over New Zealand, in and around maize and sweet corn crops. Also, serious work is underway to understand where the pest is, how it can be controlled, and what the potential economic damage and controls are that we need to understand.