A combination of native African armyworms and Fall armyworms from the Americas are ravaging staple crops across southern Africa. If uncontrolled, they have the potential to cause major food shortages. The Conversation Africa’s energy and environment editor Ozayr Patel asked Lancaster University Professor Kenneth Wilson to explain the threat and what can be done about it. OZAYR PATEL: What are armyworms, where do they come from and how do they travel? KENNETH WILSON: Armyworms are the caterpillar stage of moths belonging mainly to the genus Spodoptera. They are called armyworms because when they have ravaged a crop they march along the ground like a vast army of worms in search of more food. There are at least eight countries in southern Africa that have been hit by outbreaks of armyworms. This sequence of outbreaks began in mid-December 2016 in Zambia and has spread rapidly ever since. It is now as far south as South Africa. Because armyworms feed on many of the staple food crops th...

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