Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, crops in Nagaland are under attack from the semilooper, a moth larva commonly known as inchworm.

Officials of the Agriculture Department said inchworm attack had been reported from Kohima and Zunheboto districts. The new pest followed the more familiar fall armyworm that infested 2,961.95 hectares of cropland across seven villages in Mokokchung district.

An official statement received on Tuesday night said the inchworm infestation “with high population above the economic threshold level” had been noticed for the first time in the State. The pest was found feeding on potato, chilli, beans and other crops in about 800 hectares.

It said general control operations were being taken to prevent the spread of the semilooper, adding that alternative crop sowing might be needed in the event of a severe outbreak.

Officials said mechanical control measures and bio-pesticides produced by the Agriculture Department’s bio-control laboratory at Medziphema in Dimapur district were being used to control the inchworms.

Adjoining Manipur had a few days ago reported fall armyworm infestation in maize crop across Bishnupur, Chandel, Churachandpur, Imphal East, Imphal West and Ukhrul districts. The pest had attacked maize and paddy in 2019 too.

Assam was the first to report fall armyworm attacks in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts in April. But rains saved paddy farmers in the nick of time.

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