Online seminar features onion armyworm management strategies

Research results on the management of onion armyworm (OAW) were the highlight during the monthly online seminar of the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Agricultural Research on 9 March 2021 via Facebook livestream.

Scientist Mario Navasero of the National Crop Protection Center of the University of the Philippines Los Baños shared relevant information regarding the pest’s migration and infestation patterns, as well as potential strategies for its control.

“This is a ‘transboundary plant pest’ which means that it has the ability to migrate between islands and even countries,” Navasero revealed.

OAW feeds on the leaves of an array of vegetables and crops including onion, corn, rice, ampalaya, eggplant, tomato, hot pepper, legumes, and kamote, among others, which makes it an economically important pest.

Some of the strategies discussed include traps, some natural enemies of OAW, and chemical pesticides.

One of the traps mentioned was the synthetic sex pheromones used to lure the pest’s male adults. Based on studies abroad, it was recommended to have 20 lures for a hectare or one lure per 50 square meters.

Another option was the use of white UV lights which attracts both male and female adults, but with the use of electricity.

Two natural enemies were also identified such as the parasitoid wasps braconid and Telenomus sp. which lay eggs on the worms and eggs of OAW, respectively, at the cost of the pest’s life.

Two microbes were also seen to potentially control OAW. One is the fungus Metarhizium rileyi which grows and encloses the pest in its spores. The other is the Spodoptera exigua Multi Nucleopolyhedrosis virus which causes the pest to disintegrate.

As for the use of pesticide, Navasero advised to use them properly, and to utilize ones that belong to different groups of known modes of action.

The online seminar was participated in by 483 individuals nationwide and viewed by more than 5,000 people around the world on the said platform. ### (Jhon Marvin R. Surio)