| December 2016. A note on the name “fall armyworm”. Ernst Neering writes that Chilo partellus is not known as fall armyworm. The common name refers to Spodoptera frugiperda, a species occurring in the Americas.
Another member, Matthew Cock, writes: Confusion may have arisen because Spodoptera frugiperda (the fall armyworm) is now established in Africa.
Goergen et al. have just reported it in São Tomé, Nigeria, Togo and Benin, with records from the first two confirmed by barcoding specimens (Goergen G, Kumar PL, Sankung SB, Togola A, Tamò M (2016) First Report of Outbreaks of the Fall Armyworm Spodoptera frugiperda(J E Smith) (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae), a New Alien Invasive Pest in West and Central Africa. PLoS ONE 11(10): e0165632. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165632).
Spodoptera frugiperdais known to be highly agile in the Americas, the adults flying large distances, and it is spreading rapidly in West Africa. It is a damaging pest of maize and other crops, especially Poaceae.
This doesn’t mean the pest outbreaks on maize reported in several African countries recently are due to Spodoptera frugiperda, but some of them might be, so where there is doubt, this does need to be checked and the pests authoritatively identified.
IITA and Plantwise have been working with several countries to clarify the situation and Plantwise is preparing identification materials and a pest management guide which will be available on the Plantwise knowledge bank shortly (http://www.plantwise.org/KnowledgeBank/).