PhD: Complementary strategies for the sustainable management of an invasive pest in Africa
Throughout my PhD, I will investigate if the Fall Armyworm moth (Spodoptera frugiperda) competes with the African armyworm moth (Spodoptera exempta). Both moths threaten African food security as their caterpillars feed on many crops, including maize. S. frugiperda, native to the Americas, was identified in Africa in 2016. S. frugiperda is now distributed throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. I aim to study direct and indirect competition, including Interspecific predation, shared natural enemies, host plants, and induced plant defences. The results of this study will further develop the current knowledge of which biopesticides should be used in Kenya to control S. frugiperda and S. exempta. My PhD is in collaboration with Rothamsted Research.
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biology at Royal Holloway University of London, where I predominantly focused on applied entomology. During my undergraduate dissertation, I produced a literature review titled ‘How insects use intracellular symbionts to overcome plant defenses and some of the restrictions.’ My undergraduate research project was titled ‘Can Mycorrhizae influence the infectivity of an entompathogen to Otiorhynchus sulcatus.’ Following that, I undertook a Master’s degree in Entomology at Harper Adams University. Master’s thesis focused on biological control of scale insects, which I presented at the International Congress of Entomology 2016.
My lifelong passion for insects has inspired me to take part in various work experiences over the years. This led me to my first job as a Research Assistant at The Pirbright Institute. For two and a half years, my team and I researched the Lepidoptera Diamond Back Moth.
You can find out more about Ruth’s project in the animation video below;