Global warming will contribute to the emergence of the army of pests

Appeared in France in 2008, the pyrale butterfly, a pest of the box tree, disturbs the everyday life of the inhabitants and threatening the forest. The increase in the number of insects will result in losses of such crops as rice, corn and wheat, 10-25 percent, with the increase in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere for every degree Celsius.

The study published on Thursday in the journal Science described how insect pests that attack three staple crops, rice, corn and wheat, would respond under a variety of climate scenarios.

It projects a 50 to 100 percent increase in pest-induced crop losses in European wheat, including the United Kingdom, and 30 to 40 percent increases in North American maize even if countries meet existing commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Using climate projection data, crop yield statistics and insect metabolic rates, the study concluded that Europe - the world's most productive wheat-growing region - could see up to 16 million tons of wheat lost to crop-chomping pests by 2050.

American researchers found that climate change was expected to accelerate rates of crop loss due to growth of insect pests. Under those conditions, total annual crop losses would reach 62, 92 and 59 million tons, respectively.

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Co-lead author Professor Joshua Tewksbury, of University of Colorado Boulder, said: "In some temperate countries, insect pest damage to crops is projected to rise sharply as temperatures continue to climb, putting serious pressure on grain producers".

And while pest populations may decline in some hotter tropical areas, they are expected to increase elsewhere as temperatures rise and additional ecosystems become favourable to the insects. That is why the losses will be greatest in temperate regions, but less severe in the tropics. "But if temperatures rise, these insect populations will grow faster", said co-author Scott Merrill, a researcher at the University of Vermont.

Insects are also predicted to eat about 27 million tons of rice annually in China, where a third of all rice is produced, the report said.

Combined, the grains provide 42 percent of total calorie consumption worldwide.


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