They argue that Telenomus remus could have remained unnoticed on other hosts for a long time.

Preferring biological control options

According to scientists, Telenomus remus could be a vital tool within an Integrated Pest Management strategy for fall armyworm which – from preliminary estimates in 12 of Africa’s maize-producing countries – has the ability to cause yield losses of up to 20.6 million tonnes per annum.

Augmentative biological control options using the parasitoid should be considered, the scientists suggest, and call for classical biological control which should focus on the importation of larval parasitoids from the Americas. They point out that biological controls can offer an economically and environmentally safer alternative to synthetic insecticides currently being used for management of the fall armyworm.

The main challenge for a wider utilisation of Telenomus remus to fight Fall Armyworm is to provide a product that is financially affordable for African farmers, the scientists say.