As temperatures rise, so do insects’ appetites for corn, rice and wheat

By | September 6, 2018

Science News reports:

With temperatures creeping up as the climate warms, those very hungry caterpillars could get even hungrier, and more abundant. Crop losses to pests may grow.

Insects will be “eating more of our lunch,” says Curtis Deutsch of the University of Washington in Seattle. Based on how heat revs up insect metabolism and reproduction, he and his colleagues estimate that each degree Celsius of warming temperatures means an extra 10 to 25 percent of damage to wheat, maize and rice. Their prediction appears in the Aug. 31 Science.

Insects already munch their way through 8 percent of the world’s maize and wheat each year, and damage 14 percent of rice, Deutsch says. If Earth’s average global temperature rises just 2 degrees above preindustrial levels, annual crop losses could reach about 10 percent for maize, 12 percent for wheat and 17 percent for rice. That’s a total loss of about 213 million tons for the three grains combined. [Continue reading…]

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