By Munashe Motsi
Small grain farmers in the Lowveld region have been warned to be on the lookout for another destructive pest, the armoured cricket as the planting season has arrived.
The armoured Cricket is the second destructive small grain pest after Quail birds. The third are locusts.
The Armoured Cricket was first discovered in the Lowveld in 2019.Its destructive effects were not felt because there was no meaningful harvest due to little rainfall.
“Our harvests were greatly affected since 2019 when this type of pest was discovered in the area,” said one of the farmers.
During the 2020 season, the pest caused massive destruction to small grain crops. The year saw abundant harvesting due to good rains.
The best breeds perfectly on relatively wet season that is preceded by a dry season and this has been the situation in the Lowveld.
The severity of the pest reduced the quantity of the expected harvest.
Sorghum and Millet are the main crops that are affected by the pest.
The pest is difficult to control because it is resistant to most Acaricides that are used by farmers to spray pests. It is difficult to kill through spraying because of its body structure.
The Armoured Cricket’s skin is hard to absorb chemicals. As the name suggests, it is not easily attacked by any other pests or predators because of the mounted legs that acts as a shield.
It has two strong jaws that helps to break strong targets.
If attacked, the pest produces an unpleasant smell like of rotting carcass that often puts the predator off.
Apart from plants, the Pest also eats dead flesh, even humans. It also feeds on each other’s carcass.
The pest can be controlled or destroyed through traditional means of pest control. Picking the pest from the field is one such method. The pest does not fly, making it easy to pick.
Baiting is the other effective means of killing the pest. The use of Mealie meal mixed with Cabaryl is recommended.
By ploughing earlier before planting, the eggs are exposed to the sun, wind and predators.