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Alien Armyworms Invade Corn in Drought-Hit Southern Africa

  • Outbreak of fall armyworms is southern Africa’s first
  • Effect on production of staple food corn could be devastating
A fall armyworm, right, is seen alongside an unidentified specimen, at a farm south of Lusaka, Zambia, on Jan. 4, 2017. Photographer: Taonga Clifford Mitimingi/Bloomberg
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After southern Africa’s worst drought in more than 35 years ravaged crops and sent food prices soaring, farmers are battling a new crisis: alien armyworms.  

Godwin Mukenani Mwiya first noticed caterpillars chewing through his corn field south of Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, near the end of December. Two weeks later, he’d lost half his crop to the pest that’s already invaded more than 10 percent of farms in the country and spread to Zimbabwe and Malawi.