What are armyworms, where do they come from and how do they travel? 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 they have the potential to create food shortages in the region. The recent outbreaks in southern Africa appear to be a combination of the native African armyworm (Spodoptera exempta) and a new invasive species called the Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda). This new species is endemic to tropical and subtropical regions of Central and South America, where it causes considerable damage to maize and ot...

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