This week's blog introduces Marcela M. Navasero who works in the National Crop Protection Center in the College of Agriculture and Food Science at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. Marcela is an entomologist with a strong interest in biocontrol and has over 26 years of experience working in this field.
What work are you and your team currently undertaking related to FAW?
Our team is made up of twelve members and we are working on biological control of FAW using entomopathogens (EPF). Metarhizium rileyi, M. anisopliae, Beuvaria bassina are the three EPFs we are evaluating against FAW eggs, larvae, pupae and adults. We are also doing work on predatory earwigs, Euborellia annulipes, and E. annulata. For these two earwigs, we are studying their predatory behaviour and consumption under laboratory conditions. We are also releasing them in the field for efficacy testing.
Is FAW infestation better or worse this year than last year?
I think it is worse this year. Because aside from corn there has been reported FAW infestation on rice and other crops in 3 provinces (Cagayan, Isabela and Quirino).
What do you think are some of the barriers to biocontrol of FAW in the Philippines?
Government policy can be one barrier. For example, currently, the Department of Agriculture is providing free insecticides against FAW to corn farmers. In this case, it is hard to convince farmers to reduce the use of insecticides and increase their use of biocontrol as part of a robust IPM approach.
What are five other top plant pests and diseases currently present in the Philippines?
Farmers have to deal with a host of serious plant pests and diseases including:
· Onion Armyworm (beet armyworm)
· True armyworm
· Fusarium wilt
· Cecid fly of mango
How can we better assist farmers to manage FAW?
I believe a combination of support is needed from information dissemination using different information, education, and communication materials and approaches such as leaflets, group discussions, hands-on training, and webinars. But they also need support with technologies for FAW control such as distribution of predators and formulated entomopathogenic fungi found effective against FAW. Some of the information resources are shown below.