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Liberian crop pest mystery solved

February 04, 2009
"We cannot avoid applying pesticides. Now that we have an accurate identification, we can choose a pesticide which is specific to this species of caterpillar.
"But in the long term, we have to take this as an opportunity to develop early warning strategies for countries in West Africa. Not only for these caterpillars, but for other migratory pests."

A mystery pest which has devoured crops and contaminated water in Liberia and Guinea has finally been identified.

The insects, thought to be armyworms, are in fact the caterpillars of the moth Achaea catocaloides, says the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.
Cornering the culprit will allow the government to select the best pesticide to tackle the outbreak - the worst seen in Liberia since 1970.

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