TAIPEI – The fall armyworm, a crop-eating pest, has been detected in 18 counties and cities across Taiwan as of Monday, the island’s agricultural authorities said.

An emergency response team has been set up in Taiwan to enforce preventive measures in the affected areas, including mandatory pesticide spraying and field control.

The first fall armyworm was spotted on the island on June 10.

The pest invaded the African continent in 2016. Then it spread to India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and some other Asian nations in 2018.

The pest has wreaked havoc in many countries and regions, leading to a 20 to 30 percent reduction in corn and sugarcane output in parts of Africa and Asia. Some areas even saw complete crop failures.