The larvae stage of the Fall Armyworm moth (Spodoptera frugiperda), commonly known in the country as the ‘Sena caterpillar’ has the ability to destroy hundreds of acres of cultivation overnight and could affect over 180 species of crops including paddy, maize, sugarcane, green gram, other vegetables and fruits.
‘Sena caterpillar’, which were so far in corn plantations, were found in rice plantations in the Sinhapura area of Polonnaruwa last week, confirms Polonnaruwa district agriculture director - R.P. Upali.
Noting that pesticides had been ineffective against this caterpillar, he said this had increased the challenge of salvaging rice crops.
An introduction to the the ‘Sena caterpillar’
Meanwhile, organic farming expert - Thilak Kandegama says that this threat can be overcome by sprinkling ashes of paddy husk as a repellent.
Mr. Kandegama further notes that a currently implemented programme to destroy males of the species, is unsuccessful.
Noting that these larvae is repelled by paddy husk ashes, he says that sprinkling it on the crops by 7am for two weeks would keep them away.
Calling for the Agriculture minister's immediate attention on this regard, Mr. Kandegama adds that there is an ample supply of paddy husk ashes in the rice mills of the country and only transportation is needed to supply them to the farmers.