A plague of armyworms is marching across Africa, devastating crops, and claiming new territory at an alarming rate
by Richard Poplak in Johannesburg
Speaking Darwinistically, the planet should have no truck with the spodoptera genus, commonly known as armyworms. Fat, slow over the ground and unspeakably terrible looking, they should never have evolved into anything more than an entomological pilot project.
In some variants, their heads resemble human brains that have been caramelized with a blowtorch. Mandibles, jammed into the bottom of the face part, glisten with alien goo. In their most gregarious morphological variation, black and dun stripes run down their bodies, mimicking something an avid golfer would wear to a funeral. They are speckled with sparse little hairs, like the budding moustache of a teenage Lothario, while their stubby legs appear to have been distributed randomly, and without consideration for balance and mobility.