China has deployed an "army of drones" to help protect its crops from a "monster" pest in South China, according to Bloomberg. The drones have recorded a mortality rate as high as 98%, according to its manufacturer.
The drone manufacturer, XAG, who is based in Guangzhou, has teamed up with Germany's Bayer Crop Science in a collaborative effort to rid China of the fall armyworm. The drone devices are sporting low-toxicity insecticide and have also successfully managed the pests in a government-led initiative in the southwest province of Yunnan. Drones have also "effectively controlled" the spread of pests in cornfields in Henan province.
XAG said of the armyworm:
"It is the ‘crop-devouring monster’ that attacks over 80 crop varieties. Most farmers resort to traditional insecticide sprayers, which not only fail to move fast enough against the ravenous, fast-moving fall armyworm that can fly up to 100 kilometers in one night, but also expose them to dangerous chemicals."
The drones can operate after sunset, which is beneficial since the armyworm feeds actively at night.
The armyworm, known for devouring crops, has spread from the Americas to Africa and Asia, eating corn, rice, vegetables and cotton along the way. Since its unceremonious arrival in China, it has affected 950,000 hectares of crops spanning 24 provinces, including Hebei, Shaanxi and Shandong. Outbreaks at 90% of the affected areas are now under control.