Thursday, August 30, 2018

Rise in Insect Pests Under Climate Change to Hit Crop Yields, Study Says

Wheat, corn, and rice are staple foods for 4 billion people.  A new study suggests crop damage from climate change may be far worse than projected as pest risks rise.

Wheat (Credit: CC0 Public Domain) Click to Enlarge.Global warming could increase both the number and appetite of insect pests, new research finds, which could pose a serious threat to global crop production.

The study finds that global warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels – which is the limit set by the Paris Agreement – could cause pest-related yield losses from wheat, rice, and maize to increase by 46%, 19%, and 31%, respectively.

And each additional degree of temperature rise could cause yield losses from insect pests to increase by a further 10-25%, the research shows.

Losses from pest infestation are likely to be largest in China, the US, and France – three of the world’s most important grain producers, according to the findings.

Soaring swarms
At present, around 10-16% of global crop production is lost to pests – including insects, fungi, and bacteria.

Thousands of insect species are known to threaten food production.  One of the most well-known pests, the desert locust, feeds on a wide range of crops – including rice, maize, and sugarcane – and can swarm and strip a crop field within an hour.

Other insects, such as the western corn rootworm, target specific crops.  The rootworm, for example, feeds on maize during both its larval and adult beetle life stages and currently costs US farmers around $1bn a year in lost revenue.

The new study, published in Science, explores how climate change could alter the activity of 38 of the world’s most-studied insect crop pests.

Read more at Rise in Insect Pests Under Climate Change to Hit Crop Yields, Study Says

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