Insect-Related Crop Losses Growing Due to Temperature Rise


As a side-effect of global warming, and the slow rise in temperatures around the world, insects are getting more and more hungry. Because the heat cranks an insect’s metabolism each degree of temperature rise means from 10 to 25 percent of damage more to crops like maize, rice,and wheat.

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As things stand, insects are already responsible for the destruction of almost eight percent of wheat and maize each year. They also destroy almost 45 percent of the world’s rice. If the overall temperature rises two degrees the overall loss of maize, wheat and rice can pass 200 million tons. Percentage wise that means that farmers lose more than 10 percent of maize, around 12 percent of wheat, and a staggering 17 percent of rice.

Potential Risk and Pitfalls

Insects differ from mammals in that their core body temperature is regulated by outside temperature. As their temperature rises so does their metabolism speed up. As they burn energy, the insects start eating uncontrollably. In addition to this, the insects start to reproduce at a much higher rate resulting in more and more hungry, ravenous insects. The speeds at which the insects start reproducing are not all that different. There are enough similarities that scientists were able to create simulations of insect population growth.

In tropical climates insects are at their peak temperature, which in turn affects their reproduction rate. So ironically, the warmer climates can benefit from a rise in temperature since the reproduction rates stall at certain temperatures. That is why a rise in temperature is going to hit mild climate zones a lot harder. In these zones, insects are going to breed more and as a result, more crops may be destroyed.

This information is crucial for further research and the ability to predict insect population growth and migration patterns. But the insect metabolism is only one factor that can influence future crop yields.

Adapt to Survive

Because of the rise in hunger and number of pests, farmers have to adapt their defensive strategies. But this can significantly raise production costs for the farmers as well as for the end consumers, which can be a big issue if it is not held under control.

Rising temperatures can also influence the migration patterns of insects and the way they spread to new territories. Additionally, higher temperatures can also influence the number of parasites that destroy these pests. Also, insects and plants may adapt to the new way of thing. With this, the scientists’ predictions can be updated as well.

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