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Armyworms attack more farmlands

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The infestation of armyworms and earworms in four Negros Occidental local government units has already affected 281 farmers, tilling 178.14 hectares of farmlands, according to reports of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, as of June 21.

Hit by pest infestations were villages of Himamaylan City, and in the municipalities of Isabela, Binalbagan, and Moises Padilla. Meanwhile, Ilog has cases that are still subject for validation.

The massive spraying of sugarcane fields that were infested by armyworms has been conducted by the OPA and the Sugar Regulatory Administration, in tandem with private firms, according to 5th District Rep. Emilio Bernardino Yulo.

In a report, Merriam Defensor, OPA Technical Corn  Report Officer, disclosed that 80 hectares of sugarcane in Himamaylan City were hit by armyworms, while 22 hectares of cornfields tilled by 135 farmers in Isabela, were attacked by earworms.

Another 32 hectares of cornfields in Himamaylan were also hit by armyworms, Defensor said.

According to the Department of Agriculture, armyworms are destructive pests that got their names from their army-like movement in agricultural fields. They usually consume turf grass but would eat any vegetation in their path. They can be controlled using neem oil-based sprays, or with biological controls like earwigs, spiders, and predatory wasps.

More than 25 hectares of corn fields in four barangays of Moises Padilla were also damaged by armyworms.

The total value of the damage is yet to be established by the OPA, as of this time.

Nilo Basco, coordinator of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist Crop Protection, disclosed that they are also confirming similar pest infestations in Brgy. Concepcion in Talisay City.

Basco said they are now fast tracking the initial purchase of P3 million worth of pesticides, to address the further spread of armyworms to other LGUs.

The armyworm outbreak has been blamed on climate change, triggered by the El Niño phenomenon and subsequent rains.*

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