Africa

Armyworm invasion threatening southern Africa's crops

  • A woman holds an army worm she found feeding on her maize crop at a Farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    A woman holds an army worm she found feeding on her maize crop at a Farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

  • A farmer stands next to his maize crop ravaged by armyworm at a farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.  The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    A farmer stands next to his maize crop ravaged by armyworm at a farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

  • A farmer inspects a plant to reveal an armyworm he found feeding on his maize crop at a farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017.   The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

    A farmer inspects a plant to reveal an armyworm he found feeding on his maize crop at a farm on the outskirts of Harare, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region David Phiri, warns that an invasion of armyworms is stripping Southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent, during an emergency meeting Tuesday of 16 African nations. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)  (The Associated Press)

Experts are warning that an invasion of armyworms is stripping southern Africa of key food crops and could spread to other parts of the continent.

Representatives of 16 African nations are holding an emergency meeting in Zimbabwe, one of the countries where the fall armyworm has invaded maize fields. South Africa, Malawi and Zambia are among the most affected.

The fall armyworm is a new threat in southern Africa. David Phiri, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization coordinator for the region, said Tuesday it is mostly associated with the Americas.

Phiri says the pest is devastating to crops and so far impossible to eradicate.

"The outbreak is spreading to other countries. If the situation remains like this, food insecurity will worsen," he said.