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The Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) is native to the new world in tropical regions from the southern US to Argentina. It is known for its destructive larval phase, a serious agricultural pest that can wreak havoc with crops if left to multiply. While it will eat a very broad range of plants, its preferred food is small grain crops and grasses, including field corn, sweet corn, sorghum, alfalfa, barley, Bermuda grass, buckwheat, cotton, clover, corn, oat, millet, peanut, rice, ryegrass, sorghum, sugarbeet, sudangrass, soybean, sugarcane, timothy, tobacco, and wheat. The armyworm’s name is derived from its feeding habits: in a large numbers, armyworms will consume everything in an area and once the food supply is exhausted the entire "army" will move to the next available food source. Caterpillars grow to about 50 mm long. It pupates underground, hatching into a small, nocturnal brown and grey moth (wingspan: 32 to 40 mm). The fall armyworm does not undergo diapause, and cannot survive long periods of cold weather. Adult moths, however, are strong flyers which disperse long distances, and in summer months it is found in almost all states east of the Rocky Mountains. More northern states only see one generation per year, while in warmer states, especially Florida and Texas, where the fall armyworm inflicts most of its damage on US crops, moths can even be found year-round and the species undergoes up to four generations in a year. Methods of control include insecticides (especially those applied during early vegetation and reproduction stages in corn), cultural practices of planting early, and the application of the bacterial pathogen bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is sometimes effective. A sex hormone has been identified and is used in pheromone traps to monitor populations.

Spodoptera frugiperda cells (Sf9 and Sf21 cell lines) are commonly used in biomedical research for the purpose of recombinant protein expression using insect-specific viruses called baculoviruses.

(Capinera 1999; Wikipedia 2011)


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