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Prenatal combat

The fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) causes serious damage to agricultural crops, especially maize. Current methods of eliminating the pest, which are not always effective, generally only work after the leaves have already started being devoured, causing damage to the crop. A new approach, however, uses an insect-attacking bacterium to control the pest in its embryonic stage. In the image above, obtained via scanning electron microscopy, the larva appears dead before it has even fully emerged from the egg. The strategy, still under research, seems highly promising.

Image submitted by agronomist Fabiana Machado, who is studying a master’s degree in agricultural entomology at São Paulo State University (UNESP), Jaboticabal campus