By Lee Hsin-fang and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer
Fall armyworms believed to have flown across the Taiwan Strait from China are wreaking havoc on farms in Miaoli, Yilan and Chiayi counties, Premier Su Tseng-chang （蘇貞昌） told an impromptu meeting at the legislature yesterday.
Su called on officials across government agencies to act with urgency in eradicating the danger posed by the invasive species and threatened consequences for those who do not take the threat seriously.
The fall armyworm’s life cycle lasts about 30 days and pupa become adults in two to three weeks, so officials must eliminate the larva within the next 10 to 14 days, Su said.
In attendance at the meeting were Executive Yuan spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka, Vice Premier Chen Chi-mai （陳其邁）, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Li Meng-yen （李孟諺）, Minister Without Portfolio Chang Ching-sen （張景森）, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics （DBGAS） Minister Chu Tzer-ming （朱澤民）, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung （陳吉仲）, Veteran Affairs Council Committee Chairperson Chiu Kuo-cheng （邱國正）, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Chang Tzi-chin （張子敬）, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung （潘文忠） and Deputy Minister of the Interior Hua Ching-chun （花敬群）.
“The challenge of preventing a fall armyworm epidemic is greater than that for preventing African swine fever,” Kolas said, citing a statement Su gave on Tuesday.
Given the time constraints, the Council of Agriculture must reduce its response time for inspections when it hears of fall armyworm sightings, Su said.
The DBGAS had already budgeted for extraneous expenses in combating the armyworm invasion, he said, adding that funds could be allocated to municipal and county governments within a day of application.
The central government has confirmed the presence of armyworms in Miaoli, Yilan and Chiayi counties, and was confirming reports from Yilan and Chiayi, as well as from Taitung, Changhua and Yunlin counties, he said.
Seven reports remained to be confirmed, Su added.
A mechanical digger in Chiayi County yesterday destroys a corn field affected by fall armyworms. Photo copied by Lin I-chang, Taipei Times
A wanted poster showing how to identify a fall armyworm, a highly destructive invasive crop pest, is pictured in Yilan County yesterday. Photo: Chan Shih-hung, Taipei Times