DIMAPUR, May 20 - The semilooper pest � commonly called the inch worm � has infested standing crops in Kohima and Zunheboto districts of Nagaland. The pest has been found feeding on crops like potato, chilli and beans standing on about 700-800 hectares of land.
An official release stated that the semilooper infestation with a high population above the economic threshold, has been noticed for the first time in the State. The pest is presumed to be migratory and its identification is under process, which will take some time, the release added.
It said general control operations against the semilooper are being taken to prevent further spread. In the event of severe outbreak, crops will be damaged, which will then require alternative sowing, it added.
Mechanical control measures and biopesticides like Bacillus thuringiensis, Beauveria bassiana and Azadirachtin are being used to control the pest. Egg parasitoids called Trichogramma pretiosum, produced by the Biocontrol Laboratory of the State Agriculture Department at Medziphema near here, will be subsequently released.
Besides, plant protection sprays are being used in the affected fields and farming communities are being sensitised as immediate measures since agricultural activities are fully exempted from the lockdown provisions.
The ongoing surveillance, monitoring and logistic support to the districts and subdivisions are being provided through the State Agricultural Technology Management Agency. These measures cover the peak period of infection by the pest, thereby reducing the economic loss of the farmers to some extent.
Another invasive migratory pest called fall armyworm was reported in seven villages of Mokokchung district early this month, infesting around 2961.95 hectares of crop land.