A new study warns that insects may devour more crops as the planet heats up, potentially increasing their consumption of popular grains by as much as 25-percent. The increase would result from higher temperatures, which boosts insect energy demand and results in more crops falling victim to pests. The study also reveals that pest numbers may increase in our warmer future.
Corn, wheat, and rice are staple foods consumed by billions of people around the world. All three are at risk in a future where global average temperatures are higher, though, one potential consequence being additional activity from pests.
These insects could increase their consumption of these three crops by between 10-percent and 25-percent versus current levels….and those percentages are for every degree the temperature increases. The increased activity could drive crop loss, which is expected to increase as the planet warms.
In addition to the crops lost to increased insect activity, past research has indicated that crop yield could be reduced by around 5-percent for every degree of increased global temperature. The study, which was recently published in Science, warns that some regions could see substantial crop loss due to increased temps and insect activity.
Some European countries, for example, may see pests impact crops like wheat with an increase of between 50- and 100-percent. Similar disastrous effects could take place on corn crops in the United States and rice crops in China. Though some regions may see improved crop yield due to warmer temps bumping pests outside of their ideal zone, some of the world’s biggest crop producers are at risk.