THE Cebu Provincial Agriculture Office will send a team to Balamban town on Monday, Feb. 11, to check the extent of damage in a 3.4-hectare armyworm-infested agricultural learning center.
The pest infestation in Barangay Cantuod was confirmed by Wilberto Castillo, chief of the Integrated Laboratory Division of the Department of Agriculture (DA) 7, in a Facebook post dated Feb. 7.
Armyworms, or Mythimna separata, are caterpillars that travel in groups and destroy any kind of vegetation, including grasses and grains.
Castillo said the “army” has a tendency to continue destroying an entire field until the food source is exhausted.
A single female armyworm, Castillo said, can lay between 1,000 to 2,000 eggs in two weeks. If the infestation continues, it might cause a major pest outbreak.
Castillo has urged farmers to closely monitor their farms and use bio-control agents, such as Metarhizium anisopliae, Beauveria bassiana, Bacillus thuringensis and Nucleopolyhedro virus, to control and manage the occurrence of pests like the armyworm.
At the Capitol, Provincial Agriculturist II Marya Zea Villaganas said armyworms are known to be nocturnal pests and usually appear after a long dry spell.
“Sa natural habitat lang niya, naa gyud tay armyworm bisan asa (Armyworms are found everywhere). Pero kung naay abnormalities sa panahon like long drought, magtipon sila kay magkadungan sila og ka-hatch (But after a long drought, they all hatch at the same time). They march in bands. Dinaghan gyud sila kaayo and anything green nga ilang maagian, hutdon gyud na nila og kaon (They will eat anything green and will not stop until they finish everything),” Villaganas said in an interview Friday, Feb. 8.
Although the Province has yet to formally receive a report on the matter, Villaganas said that based on the DA’s Facebook post, the pests have destroyed sunflower patches and sweet potatoes at the learning site.
“Mo-aksyon gihapon ta bisan pa og na-report na sa DA (We will still act on the matter even though the DA already reported it). We will still send a team to check. We have chemical pesticides on standby, but since the place is a learning center, the recommendation of the RCPC (Regional Crop Protection Center) is to use bio-control agents,” she said.