Pest management strategies in the face of climate change


Dr Sharma lectures at the Banaras Hindu University.

Dr Sharma lectures at the Banaras Hindu University .

The major fallouts of climate change, namely increased temperatures and ultraviolet radiation, and low relative humidity may render many established pest control strategies less effective. Therefore there is an urgent need to address these issues for sustainable crop production and food security,” said Dr HC Sharma, Principal Scientist, Entomology, ICRISAT, during a lecture recently.

The relationship between the input costs and the resulting benefits will change as a result of changes in insect-plant interactions and the effectiveness of crop protection technologies.

This will have a major bearing on economic thresholds, as greater variability in climate will result in variable impact of pest damage on crop production.

Global warming and climate change will trigger major changes in geographical distribution and population dynamics of insect pests, insect-host plant interactions, activity and abundance of natural enemies, and efficacy of crop protection technologies. Changes in geographical distribution and incidence will affect both crop production and food security. Insect pests presently confined to tropical and subtropical regions will move to temperate regions along with a shift in the areas of production of their host plants; while distribution and relative abundance of some insect species vulnerable to high temperatures in the temperate regions may decrease as a result of global warming. The relative efficacy of pest control measures such as host-plant resistance, natural enemies, bio-pesticides, and synthetic chemicals is likely to change as a result of global warming and climate change. There is an urgent need to assess the efficacy of various Integrated Pest Management technologies under diverse environmental conditions, and develop appropriate strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.

Excerpts from Dr Sharma’s lecture ‘Climate change effects on arthropods: Implications for crop protection and food security’ delivered at the Centenary Celebrations Series Lecture at the Benares Hindu University, Varanasi, India.

Major effects of climate change

  • Effects on arthropod diversity and extinction of species
  • Change in geographic distribution and population dynamics of insect pests
  • Altered profiles of pollinators/scavengers
    • Extinction, and or emergence of new pollinators/ scavengers
    • Changes in composition of pollinators
    • Asynchrony in pollinator activity and plant phenology
    • Landscape changes due to change in pollinators and scavengers
  • Effects on expression of resistance to insect pests
  • Reduced activity and abundance of natural enemies
  • Reduced efficacy of biopesticides and synthetic insecticides.

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