THE Crop Protection Division of Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) in Davao urged crop farmers to monitor and report the presence of a highly invasive and fast-reproducing Fall armyworm (FAW) or Spodoptera frugiperda after sightings of larvae in farms in Baguio District and Municipality of Malalag.

Regional Crop Protection Center chief Marilou Infante said FAW can feed in 76 plant species such as corn, rice, vegetables, cotton, sorghum, and even grasses, can lay eggs at a rate of 100 to 500 eggs per female, has a 21-day life cycle, and strong migratory flier.

She said FAW has reportedly infested farms in Cagayan Valley and Soccsksargen.

In Davao Region, however, she said the status is considered highly probable since the BPI in Manila has yet to confirm the three specimens were sent to them.

Infanta said the markings on the specimens that resemble the FAW is 95 percent.

"They have not given us any confirmation yet so we could say that it is highly probable that the FAW is here," said Infanta.

Mayflor Parcon, entomologist at the Regional Crop Protection Center, suggested that farmers must scout their field at least once a week and identify the worms.

"Pag nasa larval stage or uod pa siya, meron siyang mga special markings sa likod. Yung second last segment ng kanyang katawan o abdomen ay merong spots arranged in square. Then yung ibang segments sa likod are arranged in trapezoid. Ang head capsule merong inverted Y na color white. Importante po na maidentify correctly ng mga farmers paano kilalanin ang FAW sa field," she said.

"Ang una namin ginaadvise talagang magfield scouting. Once weekly sa kanilang field. Pag meron ng sightings doon, icocontain na agad ang FAW na hindi na siya mag migrate," she added.

Parcon said the FAW moth can fly as far as 100 to 500 kilometers per night and can infest any time of the year.

"Pwede siyang buntis ngayon dito na lugar at mag-migrate siya sa ibang lugar doon na siya maglay ng eggs," she said.

She said it also attacks all stages of the crops and reduces its quality.

The agency officials urged the farmers to initiate blanket spraying on their farms.

"Gusto namo nga malangkuban gyud tong tanan areas nga posible nga naa ang ulod or larva sa FAW. Dili mi gusto nga naay mulusot nga laing incidences (We want to inspect all areas that could possibly have the larva of FAW. We do not want this to get past us)," Infante said.

Infante said they have provided pesticides for the farmers in Municipal Agriculture Offices, especially in the areas where the pests were identified.