Pests outbreaks have occurred several times over the years. Even though it is not a regular phenomenon but researchers state that with the changing environmental conditions, the number shall increase in the future. A pest outbreak is a phenomenon, which involves thousands of insects of the same species occupying a particular area. Pest outbreaks are significantly harmful to both crops and humans. Not only are the crops destroyed but the pests lay eggs in thousands as well.
The reasons for a pest outbreak are several. It could be due to changing weather conditions or simply traveling to another area or region in search of food. Either way, such numbers of insects flocking an area especially full of crops causes a huge loss to farmers. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss what causes the pest outbreak and how it could be managed.
Causes of Pest Outbreak
If you were to understand the history of pest management, you would have to look back at the history of agriculture management as well due to the fact that researchers state that today’s pest problems are a direct result of the steps taken to improve the production of crops. With time, as agriculture management has made progress, it has created even more pest problems. Furthermore, researchers have come up with different theories in the past to explain pest outbreaks. These theories were based on studies involving rodents, viruses, and insect herbivores, etc. However, the problem with these theories is that a general framework was not present. As a result, the theories faced a limitation that made it impossible for them to be considered potential evidence.
However, certain causes of pest outbreak are well-known and are mentioned as follows:
The first cause of a pest outbreak is monoculture. Monoculture is a type of agriculture practice that involves the production of only a single type or species of plant, crop or livestock at a time. As a result, pests tend to get attracted to them and they occupy a large area at once. Not only that, but the pests also begin colonizing the area as well until it remains favorable. Once, food becomes scarce, the same pests will begin looking for a new area.
At times, certain crops are grown through artificial cultivation. These are mostly termed as ‘Cultivar’. The cultivar is the process of selective breeding in which the farmers select different plants of the same species and then cultivate them. For instance, if you were to consider broccoli, you might be able to come up with just one or two types but little did you know that there are around 164 types, which belong to the same species. This is only possible due to cultivar. While the cultivar process brings in a lot of profits, it also improves living and colonization conditions for pests
Just as humans tend to be scared of pests, pests are always on the lookout for natural enemies. If natural enemies that either hunt, eat or kill pests are in huge numbers around the crops, pest outbreaks are unlikely to happen. Most often, the natural enemies come from a distance, which requires quite a bit of time to reach. As a result, they are either too late or enter in small numbers that make it impossible to prevent pest outbreaks.
Since farmers tend to cultivate, breed, and produce crops of the same species without any intervals, this intensification process creates a perfect environment for pests to stay a bit longer or visit again after a while. Pests tend to be clever creatures. Since they occupy an area in huge numbers, it becomes easy for them to locate the food source. Therefore, the intensification process itself is one of the reasons behind a pest outbreak. The less time interval between the planting and production of crops, the more chances of a pest outbreak.
The weather has to play a pivotal role in pest outbreaks. Most insects and animals tend to hibernate during the winter season. In addition to that, the flowering process comes to a halt and prey insects diminish as well. Therefore, pests tend to navigate to a different location where there is preferably both food and warm weather conditions. Since pests intend to colonize an area, the living conditions must be favorable for both pests and their eggs.
Movement of Plant Material
Today, seeds, crops, and plants are transported and moved all over the world. Farmers, breeders, commercial importers, and general commerce introduce new crops to new areas, which increases the possibility of pest outbreaks. While the crops and plants move around the world, so do the pest species. The agricultural practices used to improve the quality and growth of plants and crops will eventually invite different pest species.
Biological Pest Control
Biological pest control is one of the most effective ways of eliminating and preventing pest outbreaks. Not only does it significantly and efficiently reduce the number of pests but also does not harm the environment. Biological pest treatment works by introducing bacteria in water sources that kill pests while being safe for humans to drink at the same time.
Mechanical Pest Control
Mechanical pest control is another popular way of eliminating pests. It involves using several mechanical devices and equipment to form a barrier between the crops and insects. However, for mechanical pest treatment to work, anything that encourages or promotes the spreading of pests must be removed. It could be anything as simple as puddles or garbage, where these harmful pests will take refuge until they fly again for their next mission of destroying crops.
It is estimated that pest outbreaks cause billions of dollars worth of crop damage every year. While farmers and breeders look for new ways to grow and produce plants and crops, pest species follow as well. The main problem lies in controlling the population of pests. Since they are produced in billions across the globe, covering every flaw along the way seems impossible. However, the use of different pest preventing techniques has enabled farmers to protect their crops and prevent catastrophic pest outbreaks regularly.