A total of 103 maize and sorghum farms were surveyed for FAW populations during the winter period surveys of 2018-2020, of which 36 farms had FAW infestations. In Limpopo, FAW was found in various 'hot-spots' in Vhembe, Sekhukhune and Capricorn district. In Mpumalanga, FAW was especially found in the Ehlanzeni, Mbombela and Ekangala districts. In northern KwaZulu-Natal, FAW was found in winter on all farms surveyed in the Umkhanyakude district, as well as the in the uMsinga, Jozini and Ndumo areas. However, the southern areas of KZN Province (Ladysmith down to Kokstad) farmers do not plant maize in winter and temperatures are also too cold in winter for FAW survival. On farms where FAW damage was recorded, scouting for the larvae was done with provincial/ national agricultural extension services network with the aim of training extension in the more remote areas. As a result, these farmers learnt how to identify the characteristic damage caused by the pest and how to identify the larvae.
All the areas that plant maize during winter do so under irrigation, or plant in naturally damp hollow areas. Records of FAW during winter indicate that many maize growing areas in the country with mild winters are suitable for year round persistence of the FAW pest, which corroborates the laboratory studies on temperature dependent development of FAW. Further research on the flight patterns of FAW moths, as indicated by the male moth catches in sex pheromone traps, indicate that moths fly to the maize field soon after plant emergence. At this time, maize seedlings are very susceptible to pest damage and can be killed by the feeding of the larvae.
Areas visited during the survey of fall armyworm in winter between 2018 and 2020. FAW infestations marked in orange and red.