Termites are some of the major field pests in Uganda. They exist in two major types: those which build mounds (ant hills) above the soil surface and those which build underground.
Various species of termites attack maize and damage is particularly noticeable during dry seasons or in areas with erratic rainfall. They destroy the roots and the base of the stem leading to lodging.
Destruction continues even on fallen plants. In the extreme cases, damage can lead to 100% yield loss especially if it occurs at an early stage. Damage after physiological maturity will lead to grains of poor quality because after lodging, cobs become exposed to contamination.
Termites can be controlled by use of cultural and chemical methods. Through the cultural methods, colonies are identified, dug up and destroyed after the queen is brought out. Once the queen is out, the termites will not multiply.
Farmers should also leave some trash in the garden because this will help provide alternative feed to the termites. When chemicals are used, termites are killed. However, look out for the recommended insecticide to be used.
Army worms can reach plague proportions and destroy many crops when they attack. Their eggs are white and beadlike. Larvae are smooth-bodied and can be dark green, brown or black with alternating light and dark stripes running along the body.
Larvae feed nocturnally and hide under crop debris during daytime. When they turn into moths, the forewings are generally a dull grey brown colour with a distinctive white and darker area on the posterior edge.
These worms are nocturnal and therefore difficult to detect until they have done damage to the crop. Adult moths prefer dense vegetation.
Heavy infestation is more common in grassy and weedy fields and those under reduced cultivation.
Larvae are responsible for over 80% feeding. If they are not controlled early enough, destruction of the leaves will occur. Army worms can be stopped by using chemicals.
Insecticides can be applied to the crop at early larval stages if infestations are high.
Application of chemicals is more effective in the early evening or during overcast periods conditions when larvae are feeding and therefore exposed.