An expert’s guide to controlling the ‘Sena Caterpillar’

An expert’s guide to controlling the ‘Sena Caterpillar’

Written by Staff Writer

21 Jan, 2019 | 8:48 pm

COLOMBO (News 1st): The ‘Sena Caterpillar’ epidemic has now devastated thousands of acres of local crops across Sri Lanka. However, this species began to wreak havoc in India before reaching Sri Lanka.

So we spoke to Amit Shekhar, who is an expert in insecticides and has experience on the matter:

Question: We know that before we spray any chemicals into these crops, we have to identify these caterpillars so that we would be aware as to what chemical should be used in what quantity. For example, like how an antibiotic is provided to a person who is unwell?

Amit Shekhar: It is very easy to identify the adult as the face of the worm, there is an inverted Y. That will give you a very good picture of this. The other thing it is on a dark background. The other things are these hairs here on the black markings on the back, there’s a hairy growth on that. So this again you have this till the dorsal side. That is one good way to identify that it is the fall armyworm. Apart from that when you are checking the underside of the leaf you can see, always it is an egg mass. 200 to 300 eggs in one go, and it is whitish. So it is very easy to see that this is the fall armyworm.

Question: How can we control this Fall Armyworm and how have the other countries controlled it?

Amit Shekhar: For any kind of control of the pest, there are three ways to control it. one is mechanical, other is chemical and the third is biological.

If you want to control this pest, you have to crush the egg moss. First, identify on the underside of the leaf you’ll have an egg moss, mechanically you crush it, you have done the job.

The other is, of course, chemical control. There is excellent control for these pests available across the world.

The third is biological control. Anywhere there is an upsurge of pests, you can see that the graph can go to the top, but the incidence starts coming down. So every pest has a certain kind of parasitoids, parasites, predators. So there must be some kind of a predator, some kind of a parasite, if not already available in the fields right now. In India, they have come across a fungus which is slowing these pests there. So, government to government those strains can be imported to Sri Lanka and introduced.


So these are the ways it has to be controlled. A community approach is very much required. All the farmers have to come together, be aware of what they are up against and then take these kinds of measures. It cannot be eradicated, but it can be controlled to economically viable levels. If you are not aware of this, this problem will not go away on its own. So it has to be an integrated approach to control this pest.

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