Insect of the Month (September): Cotesia icipe
Fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, invaded Africa from tropical and subtropical America only as recent as 2016, yet is now present in all countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where it incurs infestation levels of up to 100%, often resulting in total yield loss and devastating the livelihoods of many farmers. The pest causes up to 4.6 billion USD loss annually to the region’s economy. Cotesia icipe is a tiny beneficial parasitoid that was recently discovered by icipe scientists in Kenya to 2016, infecting a variety of stemborers. Researchers found it is also highly effective against the fall armyworm: in Ethiopia, C. icipe was its main parasitoid, with a percent parasitism rate of over 37%. As such, it may be a formidable foe against this debilitating pest and could be used in augmentative releases across the continent.